After learning before the game that his primary backup was retiring, Tony Parker made sure the San Antonio Spurs got plenty of production from the point guard position in the NBA late Monday.
Parker scored 31 points in his return from a one—game absence to lead the Spurs to a 112—97 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Parker, who missed Friday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers with a strained right quadriceps, hit 13 of 18 shots and had seven assists.
The Spurs extended their winning streak over the Wizards to 12.
The Spurs went 8—1 on a road trip before the All—Star break, but they have been able to beat only struggling Eastern Conference teams on their current seven—game homestand. The Spurs lost to Chicago, Denver and the Clippers but have now beaten Charlotte, New York and the Wizards.
“I think we did a great job moving the ball,” Parker said. “We took advantage of their defense and got wide—open shots for everyone.”
Before the game, veteran Spurs point guard T.J. Ford abruptly retired following the latest scare to his surgically repaired spine, which sidelined him for the entire 2004—05 season.
While the Spurs could miss Ford as the season progresses, the team has often played without him as various injuries limited him to only 14 games. Parker has had no trouble picking up the slack, as he showed on Monday in a game in which Manu Ginobili played just 20 minutes.
“He’s playing great,” teamate Tiago Splitter said of Parker. “Since the beginning of the season, he’s playing like an All—Star. That’s great for us, having a guy like that. Not just scoring, but moving the ball on assists.”
San Antonio, in fact, had assists on 23 of its 28 field goals in the first half and scored 44 points in the paint. After trailing by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, Washington cut it to nine in the fourth but could get no closer.
Parker repeatedly exploited the defense in the first half and, with the Wizards closing, had 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“With Parker, we had our hands full,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “He’s playing as well as anybody in the league. He’s a tough cover, I understand that. But, in the first half, we just allowed him to get to the rim time after time after time after time.”
Keywords: Tony Parker