Tony Parker has been so outstanding lately that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called it ''beyond an All-Star level.''
Does that mean All-NBA? Maybe even MVP?
''I think he should be in every conversation for any award that's going to be given,'' Popovich said. ''I don't think that is really tough to see. I mean, there's a group of guys, but he should be in that group as one of the guys that's playing the best in the league.''
Parker had 29 points and 11 assists in another brilliant performance without his two sidekicks, and San Antonio dominated the second half to beat the Brooklyn Nets 111-86 on Sunday night.
Two nights after a loss in Detroit ended their 11-game winning streak, the Spurs got back on track quickly behind Parker, who fell short of his third straight 30-point game only because he was so good that he sat out the final minutes of the rout.
Danny Green added 14 points and Tiago Splitter had 13 for the Spurs, who were again without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili because of injuries as they beat the Nets for the fifth straight time and 19th in the last 20 meetings.
Parker, the Western Conference player of the month in January, may be appreciated more without them, but said he wants them on the floor with him.
''I don't care about getting my due and stuff like that. I'm in San Antonio, they always forget about me, so I get used to it,'' Parker said. ''So I definitely prefer to have Timmy and Manu because that's how you win championships. You need more than one player to win championships. You need a whole team and I prefer winning championships than having my due.''
Joe Johnson scored 19 points and Brook Lopez had 18 for the Nets, who were outscored 60-29 in the second half and lost for the sixth time in nine games. Deron Williams finished with 15 points, but was a distant No. 2 when it came to the best point guards on the floor.
''Their execution was excellent. Tony had a very, very good game. But offensively, the push wasn't there in the second half,'' Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. ''A lot of the things that we did well, we stopped doing. We got very careless with the ball, turning it over, getting stripped, not finishing.''
Duncan missed his third straight game due to a sore left knee, while Ginobili was out for the fourth consecutive game with tightness in his left hamstring. Popovich said he would be cautious with the two stars, knowing he needs them later this season.
They're not missing them now - thanks to Parker, who had no turnovers in 35 minutes.
''He's carrying the whole team, especially when Tim and Manu are out. He's doing everything on the court,'' teammate and fellow Frenchman Boris Diaw said.
Parker had 10 points and four assists in the third quarter, when San Antonio outscored Brooklyn 30-14 to turn a six-point halftime deficit into an 81-71 advantage. He'd had 31 points and eight assists in both of the previous two games, and just missed a fourth 30-point game in his last six.
Getting into the lane with ease and knocking down consecutive jumpers at one point when he didn't, he was 5 of 6 from the floor in the quarter, making any Nets defender look completely overmatched.
The Spurs then put it away early in the fourth. Parker returned from a rest with San Antonio leading by 10 and helped the Spurs run off 10 straight points. Matt Bonner and Diaw made consecutive 3-pointers, Parker added another basket, and Stephen Jackson drove for a layup that made it 95-75 and had the Nets hearing boos in their new home for one of the few times this season.
''I mean, (we) deserve it,'' Williams said. ''These people pay money to come see us play and play better than that. You can't ever be mad at that.''
Johnson said the Nets have a problem responding lately when teams seize the momentum.
''I don't know what it is, but you know, it just seems when a team makes a run on us, man it just takes the air out of us,'' he said. ''It shouldn't be that way. We should be able to respond, especially on our floor, but it hasn't been the case.''
Carlesimo said his team was lacking the same enthusiasm and confidence it had when he first took over. The Nets got off to a fast start Sunday, but another bad third quarter - though not as bad as the 30-5 whipping the Spurs put on them in San Antonio on New Year's Eve - ruined all they had done well in the first half.
Lopez capped a 10-point first quarter with a jumper with 2.9 seconds left, and the Nets shot 64 percent in the period for a 35-25 lead. The Spurs tightened things up in the second, cutting it to 57-51 at halftime - when Diaw said they got a scolding from Popovich - then surged ahead behind Parker's mastery.
The Spurs improved to 2-1 on their nine-game rodeo road trip, which ties the longest in franchise history.