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Tony Parker assists his way to history


PhilBoxing.com




HE came into the league at a tender age of 18, taken by the San Antonio Spurs as a lowly 28th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft.

He is a smallish 6-foot-2, 185-pound point guard, and with no college ball experience to speak of in the U.S., the expectations of him succeeding in the world's ultimate basketball stage were reasonably low.

But Tony Parker always had tremendous upside. Such as a knack for finding the open teammate, the ability to score and break down defenses with fearless forays to the paint. And yes, that blinding, electrifying speed.

Eleven years and 3 championships later, the Belgian from France is still getting it done for San Antonio. The one-time NBA Finals MVP and 3-time All-Star is still flying high, running the his team's offense fast and furious.

Saturday night at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Parker tallied 42 points and dished 9 assists to lead the Spurs to a 107-96 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Parker's 9 assists pushed his career total to 4,477, surpassing Avery Johnson for the franchise's all-time best in that category.

The winningest squad in the NBA thus far this season, the 18-5 Thunder are 9-1 in Oklahoma and 9-4 away from home. But the league's best road team couldn't overcome the Texas juggernaut that was Parker.

"He is so quick and he was beating our bigs to the lane sometimes. It's tough for our bigs to guard someone as fast as Tony," said Kevin Durant, who led the visiting Thunder with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

It wasn't just the bigs who struggled. Anyone wearing a Thunder uniform couldn't rein in Parker, who made 16 of 29 field goals and 10 of 12 free throws on this magical, historic night. Thunder coach Scott Brooks put it best, "Tony Parker had his way with us."

Spectacular as Parker was, he got ample help. Tim Duncan had 13 points and 15 rebounds while rookie Kawhi Leonard chipped in 16 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Richard Jefferson and Matt Bonner added 9 points each.

Durant got help from his fellow Thunder as well, 18 from Russell Westbrook and 19 from James Harden. But the aggressive and tenacious Spurs, who built an 85-61 lead in third quarter, couldn't be denied.

Young point guards such as Derrick Rose of Chicago, Chris Paul of the Clippers and the Thunder's Westbrook are clearly the future of the NBA.

But Tony Parker, wiser and better at 29, isn't quite ready to pass the torch just yet. (HDS)


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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