If the Los Angeles Clippers are trying to take Tony Parker out in this series, they’re not doing a very good job. The Spurs’ point guard dished out 11 assists in Game 1 and scored 22 in Game 2.
San Antonio also happens to lead the Western Conference semifinals 2-0, with the best-of-seven shifting to Los Angeles for the next two games, beginning Saturday.
The Parker matchup against Chris Paul was one of the most highly anticipated duels coming into this series. The Clippers trapped and forced the ball out of Parker’s hands in the opener.
All Parker did was set up his teammates for easy looks in the 16-point victory. The Clippers tried to bring much of that pressure Thursday night, only to watch Parker carve them up for a game-high 22 points and five assists.
“I thought Tony played very, very aggressively and really focused knowing full well he was going to get hit, he was going to get doubled and so on and so forth,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He welcomed it, played through it and did one heck of a job.”
Paul, on the other hand, has been downright miserable so far. He has 16 points combined in the two games on 7-of-22 shooting.
“I’m just trying to do my best,” Parker said of his defense against Paul. “I’m just trying to stay in front of him and try to contain him and make sure he takes hard shots. Obviously Timmy (Duncan) is helping me out too, and Boris (Diaw) and Tiago (Splitter). It is not just me. It is the whole team. It is a team defense. It is everybody being focused on Chris and making sure he doesn’t keep going.”
NOTES, QUOTES Spurs are wary of Clippers’ resilience –The Clippers are in the second round largely because they rallied from 27 down in the first game against Memphis. The Clippers have found themselves down by double-digits routinely in the first two games against San Antonio. And other than short runs to seemingly get back into the game, the Spurs aren’t allowing the Clippers to maintain any momentum. San Antonio is well aware of their ability to come back. “We had a great start and a quick lead of 15,” Tony Parker said after Thursday’s 105-88 win. “For whatever reason we lost it; I don’t know why. When the second unit of the Clippers came, they played a lot harder and a lot more physical than us. I thought in the second half we did a better job to match the energy and match the intensity.” –The Spurs connected on 13 3-pointers against the Clippers in Game 1, tying a franchise postseason high set on May 22, 2007, against Utah. San Antonio followed that stellar performance from downtown with 10 more treys in Game 2. QUOTE TO NOTE: “It is not important to look at that. We want to concentrate on our task. We know that Game 3 is going to be very hard. We need to focus on that and not focus on the winning streak or what we are doing well. We know that Saturday is going to be a long, long game and very physical.” — Guard Tony Parker, on the Spurs’ 16-game winning streak.
ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES: –F Kawhi Leonard is enjoying his first foray into NBA playoff basketball. The rookie is averaging 10.5 points and 6.0 rebounds in two games against the Clippers. “I’m just having fun and it is competitive basketball,” he said. “I love the game. I played hard every possession. I’m just going out there and having fun with it.” –F Tim Duncan has moved past Shaquille O’Neal into third place on the all-time playoff list for blocks, with 462. Duncan trails only Hakeem Olajuwon (472) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (476) in postseason history. –F/C Matt Bonner had a special guest for Game 2. A 12-year-old fan was suspended from his middle school for having Bonner’s face shaved into his red hair. The student was given free tickets and met his favorite player before the game. Bonner didn’t understand why the school chose to suspend the fan, who was presented with an autographed pair of shoes and an autographed jersey. “Keep supporting us redheads in the NBA,” Bonner told his young fan.