Parker returns, leads Spurs past Wizards

BY foxsports • March 12, 2012

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- After learning before the game that his primary backup was retiring, Tony Parker made sure the Spurs got plenty of production from the point guard position Monday night.

Parker scored 31 points in his return from a one-game absence to lead the San Antonio 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. Tiago Splitter scored 17 points, Tim Duncan added 14, and DeJuan Blair had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

The Spurs extended their winning streak over the Wizards to 12. Washington has lost nine of its last 11 and fell to 3-15 on the road.

JaVale McGee led the Wizards with 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Jordan Crawford added 19 points.

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 the Bulls, Nuggets and Clippers but have now beaten the Bobcats, Knicks and 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.

Ford was injured March 7 when Knicks guard Baron Davis elbowed him in the back, knocking him to the ground. The 28-year-old Ford didn't move for several minutes and wobbled while being helped off the court.

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 Monday in a game in which Manu Ginobili played just 20 minutes.

"He's playing great," 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.

The All-Star point guard 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."

Washington struggled against San Antonio's pick-and-roll and, as Duncan showed, even had trouble with transition defense. After rebounding Booker's miss in the first quarter, Duncan drove the length of the court without passing before dunking.

"I don't often get to do that," Duncan said. "It worked out perfectly, and that's how it goes."

The Spurs finished with 47-of-87 shooting and 30 assists. They outrebounded the Wizards 46-41.

"It's not just the guards," said John Wall, who shot 5 of 14. "It's not just the bigs. It's everything. No help side, no closing back on shooters, and they score whenever they want to, basically. Until we started playing defense in the second half, a young team like us, we can't wait against a team like this."

NOTES: Gary Neal assumed Ford's backup point guard role, and Ginobili moved into the starting lineup. It was Ginobili's first start since Jan. 2. Ginobili left the game in the third quarter with muscle tightness and didn't return. "He just tightened up," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. . Wizards forward Rashard Lewis missed his seventh straight game with a sore left knee. ... Duncan passed Clyde Drexler to move into 25th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Drexler had 22,195 points. Duncan now has 22,207.