Parker’s double-double leads Spurs past Kings
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Tony Parker might have been concerned about a letdown coming off the All-Star break, but the San Antonio Spurs’ veteran guard showed no signs of rust.
Parker had 30 points and 11 assists to lead San Antonio to a 108-102 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, giving the Spurs their 15th win in their last 16 games.
Parker started the game strong and also helped the Spurs finish as well, getting eight points in the fourth, including a crucial basket to thwart the Kings’ comeback.
Parker made 10 of 20 shots, hit 10 of 12 free throws, and also added three steals. However, he did commit seven of the Spurs’ 17 turnovers.
“He (Parker) picked up where he left off before the All-Star break,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s having an unbelievable year. He just keeps doing it.”
Parker confounded the Kings throughout, knifing through the defense in getting to the basket and drawing fouls, flipping up his trademark tear drop from close range, making jumpers, and finding open teammates.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, that’s what I’ve been trying to do all year long,” Parker said. “The first game back after the All-Star break is always tough. We’re going to have some turnovers, some missed shots, and stuff like that. Overall, it’s a big win because if you win on the road it’s sweet. I’ll take it.”
What Parker and the Spurs will also take is more games like this from Danny Green, who scored 21 points, including 5-for-8 shooting on 3-pointers. Parker drove the lane several times and found Green fairly open for several 3-pointers from the corner.
“Games like this are what Tony does. We expect nothing less,” Green said. “It was just Tony being Tony.”
It’s a difficult chore for a struggling team like the Kings to stop the Spurs. And right now it’s difficult for any team to stop San Antonio. The Spurs own the top overall record in the NBA (43-12) as well as the best road mark (21-10).
Kawhi Leonard added 15 points and Manu Ginobili 12 as San Antonio won at Sacramento for the 10 straight time.
Brois Diaw had 10 points and Tim Duncan added nine points and 14 rebounds for the Spurs.
“We know they are probably one of the best teams in the league,” Kings center DeMarcus Cousins said. “They’re playing team basketball, that’s why they’re as good as they are.”
Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points for the Kings, who have dropped three straight. Tyreke Evans had 20 points, Marcus Thornton added 16, and Jason Thompson and Cousins had 11 each.
The Spurs came out strong in the opening quarter, showing no effects of the layoff during the All-Star break. They established a double-digit lead on numerous occasions in winning their third straight.
“We just didn’t make shots. The whole first half we shot 30 percent,” Thomas said. “That’s the biggest thing. When you don’t make shots it makes everything else look bad.”
The Kings shot much better in the second half and made the game a little tense for the Spurs in the closing minutes. Thornton made back-to-back 3s and followed with a fast-break layup, pulling the Kings to 103-100 with 55.9 seconds to go.
However, Parker drove the lane for a layup against Cousins with 19.7 seconds remaining and Ginobili made a free throw 8 seconds later to put the Spurs up by six points.
“I kind of ended up in the situation (with Parker) and he got the best of the situation,” Cousins said.
San Antonio has four games remaining on its season-high nine-game road trip then it will play 17 of its final 24 at home. They return after playing Sunday in Phoenix.
The most intriguing aspect regarding the underperforming Kings this season is off the court, where the uncertainty of the team’s future lingers.
Mayor Kevin Johnson is trying to prevent the Kings from moving to Seattle and wants to put together a financial plan by late next week. Whether the Kings remain in Sacramento will likely be determined during the NBA’s owners meeting April 17-18.
A Seattle-based group of investors, headed by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, has already reached an agreement with the Maloof family to buy 65 percent of the franchise.
On Tuesday night, the Sacramento City Council voted to lend its support to keeping the Kings in town and helping to build a new downtown arena.
A pair of jumpers by Thompson pulled the Kings to within 85-81 early in the fourth. But Green quickly hit a 3 and Parker added consecutive baskets, giving the Spurs a 92-91 advantage.
Parker continued to penetrate the Kings’ defense in the third quarter when he scored nine points. Green was also effective, making two 3-pointers and scoring eight points to help San Antonio take an 83-74 lead into the fourth.
The Kings got going offensively in the third quarter after shooting just over 28 percent in the first half. Both Evans and Cousins scored nine points and Thomas had eight.
Parker had 13 points and six assists and Leonard had 12 points in the opening half for the Spurs, who led 50-41 at halftime.
NOTES: Kings missed 18 of 22 shots in the first quarter and trailed 28-19. ... Stephen Jackson was not with the Kings for personal reasons. ... The Kings play the next five games on the road where they are 5-23 this season. The trip concludes March 1 game at San Antonio. ... The Spurs shot 10 of 30 on 3s.