Vintage Tony Parker puts Spurs up 2-0, spells trouble for Lakers

Posted Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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At the rate they’re going, the San Antonio will have a good chance of completing their “Drive For Five’’ campaign before these NBA playoffs are history.

With Tony Parker looking like the Tony Parker of old, the Spurs proceeded to mow down the Los Angeles Lakers 102-91 on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center. The victory enabled the Spurs to take a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series with the venue shifting to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday night.

Parker scored 15 of his points in the third period when the Spurs took advantage of foul problems by Dwight Howard to take control of the game. At one point, Parker scored 10 consecutive points for the Spurs — three baskets came on forays to the basket — as he kept attacking the rim while Howard was on the bench.

“The second half I was very aggressive and I got a rhythm going,’’ Parker said. “I’ve been battling a lot of injuries and I was good tonight, and hopefully I can maintain that.

“Most importantly, we won the game and the team played very well tonight.’’

Parker finished with a game-high 28 points, seven assists and no turnovers in 37 workmanlike minutes as the Spurs are vying for their fifth world title.

“You see Tony tonight and that was probably the best part of the whole game,’’ said Spurs forward Tim Duncan, who had 16 points and five rebounds. “He’s getting his rhythm back.

“He felt good tonight, he shot the ball well tonight. He looked like the Tony of midseason tonight, and that’s great for us.’’

Howard’s foul trouble

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who got 13 points apiece from Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace, said the game changed a little bit when Howard sat down after being whistled for his fourth foul with 8:37 remaining in the third quarter.

“I know Dwight played a good game, but that hurt us,’’ D’Antoni said. “But we did make a little bit of a comeback with him on the bench.

“We get it down to a certain point and it seems like somebody pops up and makes a big play.’’

The Spurs were clinging to a 78-68 lead after the third quarter. Then, Duncan made back-to-back baskets, and Matt Bonner followed with a 3-pointer to pad San Antonio’s lead to 91-74 midway through the fourth period.

Bonner, who finished with 10 points, five boards and three steals, also took his turn trying to corral Howard, who is one of the toughest players to guard in the NBA. On one play in the first half, Bonner was draped all over Howard and tried to arm-wrestle him, but Howard went directly through Bonner, scored, was fouled, and completed the three-point play.

“Matty’s a tough-minded individual,’’ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’ll do whatever we ask him to do.

“I think his family worries about him and the things we ask him to do out there. Obviously he’s outmatched physically, but he never stopped working.’’

Injury woes mount

However, for the Lakers, point guard Steve Nash suffered another setback when he aggravated his right hamstring. Nash had just returned to the lineup in Game 1 on Sunday after missing eight games with a hamstring injury.

“Unfortunately, I tweaked it in the first half,’’ said Nash, who had nine points and six assists in 31 minutes. “I tried to keep going.

“It got worse as the game went on.’’

Nash isn’t sure if he’ll be able to play Friday.

“I’m going to have a repeat epidural in the morning. I will see if I can get any improvement out of it and we will see on Friday.’’

It was announced Thursday that Steve Blake, who was helped off the court Wednesday, won't play in Game 3 and Nash and fellow guard Jodie Meeks are doubtful.

Blake has a strained right hamstring. Nash got two epidural injections in his back and a cortisone injection in his right hip.

D'Antoni says Nash is more likely to play than Meeks, who has a sprained left ankle.

D’Antoni after Wednesday’s game was not counting his team out despite having no Kobe Bryant (Achilles’ tendon surgery) and possible no Nash for the rest of this series.

“The series hasn’t even started yet,’’ D’Antoni said. “It starts if we lose on Friday.

“They won two games on their home court. OK, let’s win one on Friday and let’s see what happens Sunday.’’

Spurs’ role players

On Wednesday, Kawhi Leonard scored eight of his 16 points in the first quarter when the Spurs jumped out to a 28-23 lead. Manu Ginobili took the baton from there for the Spurs, scoring seven of his 13 points in the second period as San Antonio assumed a 56-48 lead at the half.

D’Antoni said he expects to get firepower from Duncan, Parker and Ginobili. But when the Spurs’ role players get it going, that makes it that much tougher for anyone to contain San Antonio.

“They’ve got so many guys that can make baskets that it’s either Bonner doing it ... Leonard did it tonight,’’ D’Antoni said. “It’s always Parker and Ginobili and Duncan.

“But then somebody else picks up the slack, and tonight it was Leonard and Bonner. Both of them played a terrific game.’’

Howard collected 16 points, nine boards and four blocks for the Lakers. But he turned the ball over five times and was in constant foul trouble, in addition to getting tagged for a technical foul early in the third quarter.

On several occasions, Howard seemed frustrated that the Spurs consistently had at least three players near him when the Lakers had the ball.

“I just have to trust my teammates to make shots,’’ Howard said. “On whatever they do defensively I have to be aware of my arms and try not to get tangled up.’’

Howard then complimented the Spurs, who shot 51.2 percent from the field and also converted half of their 14 3-pointers, for their body of work on the offensive end of the floor.

“They did a good job of coming up with plays we have not seen,’’ Howard said. “Some of their guys got hot when we were trying to make a run and it just made it tough.’’

Those two wins the Spurs were able to collect to open this series also has made it tough for the Lakers. But even the Spurs are saying their job is far form over.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re at home or on the road,’’ Popovich said. “Physicality goes up, intensity, competitiveness.

“All we did was keep serve, in a way. We’ve got to go out there [to Los Angeles])and see if we can play better than we have here at home.’’

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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