DALLAS, March 20 (Ticker) --
A sure sign of
's improvement is
the willingness of the San Antonio Spurs to give him the ball
down the stretch in the biggest game of the season.
NBA TV highlights from|
Parker made a clutch layup over two defenders with 1.2 seconds
remaining in overtime to lift the Spurs to a 112-110 road
victory over the league-leading Dallas Mavericks.
Parker had a successful rookie campaign in 2002 and has improved
dramatically this season, nearly doubling his scoring average.
Even more impressive is the increased responsibility and trust
he has been given in his second season as he - not superstar
- is controlling the offense in crucial moments.
The 20-year-old Frenchman missed a potential game-winning shot
in the final seconds of regulation but redeemed himself in
made a layup to forge a 110-110 tie
with 39 seconds left, Dallas'
missed a jumper at
the other end.
Duncan secured the rebound and the Spurs called a timeout with
seven seconds left. Rose caught the inbounds pass and drew three
defenders before passing to Parker, who drove past
and got the shot over the outstretched arms of the 7-foot
Nowitzki and 7-6
"I was the third option and the first two were for Timmy
(Duncan), but it wasn't open," said Parker, who made 10-of-21
shots. "I had a lot of confidence and I knew it was going in. I
just tried to do it quick because (Bradley and Nowitzki) were
"He does a good job with that shot and it's one of his
favorites," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They executed it
well and Tony made a great play. We have a lot of confidence in
Nick Van Exel
, who scored 10 of his season-high 35
points in the final six minutes, missed a 3-pointer from the
left corner as time expired.
Duncan collected 25 points and 18 rebounds but did not score in
the final seven minutes and did not get many touches.
"I didn't do a thing in overtime. Those guys were doing a great
job tonight for us," Duncan said of his teammates. "(Parker) was
incredible all night for us. I thought he was great and under
"We tried not to concentrate on getting it to him too much,"
Popovich said. "Tonight he really wasn't the primary guy and our
perimeter guys really contributed."
Rose finished with 22 points as San Antonio pulled within 2 1/2
games of Dallas for the best record in the Western Conference.
"I'm happy with where we're at," Parker said. "I want to just
improve as a team. If we catch them, we catch them. I'm not
worried about that. We just have a long way to go."
"It was made out to be a big game and it was," Dallas coach Don
Nelson said. "Unfortunately, we didn't win but we competed hard
and gave it everything we had. It is going to be a very, very
tight race. This obviously makes it a lot tighter."
Rose and Duncan combined to made 21-of-32 shots as the Spurs
shot 53 percent (46-of-87).
Nowitzki had 34 points and 12 rebounds and
points as the Mavericks lost for the third time in six games.
"It was the toughest loss of the year," Nash said. "We made some
mistakes but I think we deserved to win as much as they did. It
hurts a lot and makes you feel sick."
Dallas played without starting guard
, who is
sidelined with a strained left hamstring suffered in Tuesday's
win over Cleveland.
"I knew I had to be aggressive tonight because I knew Mike
wasn't there," Van Exel said. "I was able to make some shots but
it was a tough loss. We're still up 2 1/2 games, so we just
have to stay positive."
The Spurs had a 96-90 lead after a jumper by Rose with 5:35
remaining, but the Mavericks scored seven of the next nine
points. Van Exel capped the burst with a 3-pointer to bring
Dallas within 98-97 with 3:38 left.
Duncan scored his final points of the game on a 15-foot jumper
with 3:11 left, but Bradley responded with a hook shot at the
made 1-of-2 free throws with 92 seconds
remaining and Parker missed an ill-advised 3-pointer at the
Van Exel and Bradley each missed shots for the Mavericks, who
turned the ball over with 36 seconds left after Nash allowed the
ball to slip through his fingers and across mid-court for a
Parker gave San Antonio a 102-100 edge with a pull-up jumper
over Nash with 29 seconds left. But Van Exel hit a tough jumper
from the right wing 13 seconds later.
On the next possession, Duncan set a screen for Parker, who
missed a wide-open 20-footer. Van Exel got the rebound and
missed a shot from just over halfcourt as time expired.