EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., June 8 (Ticker) -- Tony Parker
Magnifique. Manu Ginobili
? Sensacional. And you don't need a
translator to figure out the San Antonio Spurs
control of NBA Finals 2003.
NBA TV highlights from|
Speed Stick Never Quits Highlight:
Dunk of Night:
Parker scored 26 points and led a second-half rally and
Ginobili made two huge plays down the stretch to spark the Spurs
to an 84-79 win over the New Jersey Nets
in Game 3 on Sunday.
The Spurs did it with defense early and offense late as they
turned the tables on the Nets, who lost at home in the playoffs
for the first time since April 22. But it was less Tim Duncan
and more of the play from the international duo of Parker and
A second-year point guard from France, Parker is outplaying Nets
superstar Jason Kidd
Parker scored 19 points in the second half and has become the
key to success for San Antonio as it inches toward its second
Tony Parker was the San Antonio star in Game 3.|
The Spurs improved to 26-2 this season when Parker scores at
least 20 points. They are 6-1 in the playoffs when Parker
reaches that magic number, and he has done it twice this series
against Kidd, one of the top defensive guards in the league.
"I try not to put too much pressure on myself," said the
21-year-old Parker, who made 9-of-21 shots and added six
assists. "I think about my matchup against Jason Kidd, the main
thing is, it's the Spurs against the New Jersey Nets and just
try to run my team and be aggressive."
"Tony's a special young man," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
"I'm really impressed at what he can do at this young age. He's
been really great and he was good for us tonight."
Ginobili, a rookie guard from Argentina, continues to bring energy to both ends of the floor. He fronted a highly effective
zone in the second quarter and did all his scoring in the second
half, totaling eight points.
And when Parker's steam appeared to run out, Ginobili
was there to rescue him -- twice. After Parker missed a free
throw to leave the Spurs clinging to a 78-75 lead with 90
seconds remaining, Ginobili stole the ball back from New Jersey's Lucious Harris
"I just saw the pick-and-roll and tried to jump it," Ginobili
That led to two more free throws by Parker, who promptly missed
both. But Duncan sneaked inside of Kenyon Martin
"I just went hard to the middle," Duncan said. "Kenyon tried to
block me out and I just kind of ducked behind him."
"Just slipped out right from me," Martin admitted. "I thought I
had a body on him."
The Spurs reset their offense, and Parker penetrated and found
Ginobili, whose runner along the right baseline went in for an
80-75 lead with 43 seconds to go.
"There's not much time to hesitate," Ginobili said. "I think
the shot clock was winding down. I knew that Kenyon was coming,
so I just tried to get it high."
"He's a very good player," Parker said. "All season long, he's
made some big shots. In Europe, he played some big games, won
the Euro League and some MVPs, so the NBA Finals is the same
thing for him -- a lot of pressure, a lot of attention, all of
the media -- so I don't think it's going to affect him."
The energetic but sometimes erratic play of Parker and Ginobili
is affecting Popovich.
"It's fun for them and it's a life-shortening experience for
me," Popovich said of his youngsters. "I think I have about a
How do you say "We've reclaimed the home-court advantage" in
The Spurs got back what they gave away in Game 2 and have this
working for them: Since the Finals went to a 2-3-2 format in
1985, the eight teams that have won Game 3 have gone on to win the title.
"We are right where we want to be," Duncan said. "We have the
opportunity to go into Game 4, get another one and really put
them on their backs. So the pressure is on them."
Games 4 and 5 are at Continental Airlines Arena Wednesday and Friday.
Duncan had 21 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three
blocks. Although somewhat quiet with just 13 shots, as the Nets
used more double-teams, he again confounded them with his
patient, intelligent play.
"The guy is an amazing player, because it doesn't matter what
gets taken away from him," Popovich said. "He finds another way
to be involved, whether it's getting rebounds, assists, blocked
shots -- he's really an all-around player."
Martin again battled Duncan as best he could with 23 points and
11 rebounds. Kerry Kittles added 21 points and Kidd had 12 and
Kidd made just 6-of-19 shots, setting the tone for the lowest-scoring
first half in NBA Finals history. The Nets set a record with
nine points in the second quarter and tied another with 30 in
the first half.
They regrouped in the third quarter but when it appeared they were ready to pull away from the Spurs, Ginobili converted a three-point play and Parker hit a pair of three-pointers 48 seconds
apart, cutting the deficit to 57-54 heading to the final period.
"We had to loosen up offensively to get some guys to knock down
shots, and obviously that began with Tony," Popovich said.
Parker stayed hot in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points in a
19-4 burst that opened the period and gave San Antonio its
largest lead at 73-62 with 5:20 to go. He had two free throws
and a three-pointer to give the Spurs the lead for good, then capped
the surge by putting back his own miss and drilling another
"With his speed and when he gets rolling a little bit, he can
shoot the ball a little bit," Duncan said. "His confidence
"He had a great game," Scott said. "He made some big shots for
The Nets fought back, and when Parker fired an airball and Aaron
Williams dunked off a feed from Kidd, it was 77-75 with 1:43
left. But as Parker faded, Ginobili emerged, and the Spurs held
"We have to find a way to be aggressive in the zone," Kidd said.
"I thought we were passive and taking the jump shot instead of
trying to explore and trying to get into the seams."
"It was like a European game," Parker said. "Everyone was
struggling. It was all defense."
Before the game, Popovich said there wasn't much he could do
about his team's problem with turnovers. Then he watched his
players stumble and fumble their way to six baskets and seven
giveaways, creating a 21-15 hole.
Martin scored 10 points in the first quarter, but when he sat
down with Kidd early in the second, the offense went with them.
By the time they returned, the Spurs had the lead, and their
zone had the Nets firing impatient, off-the-mark jumpers.
"We have a zone offense," Martin said. "We're just not making
shots like we do on a consistent basis. We just have to be
aggressive versus the zone, penetrating the ball, different things