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Spurs Tie Series, Parker Carried Off The Court Due To Injury

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San Antonio came out of the gates ready to play Wednesday night following their 27-point loss in Game 1 of the series, flipping the script and defeating Houston 121-96 to even the series at a game a piece. Unfortunately, any potential celebration of the victory became unimaginable when Tony Parker fell to the floor early in the fourth quarter after a shot attempt and stayed down, holding his left knee.

Parker needed to be carried off the court by his teammates. Prior to his injury, he’d been having a very good game for the Spurs – he went eight of thirteen from the field, scored 18 points, and had four assists.

But it won’t just be his play that will be missed for however long Parker will be out, as his longtime teammate Manu Ginobili pointed out in his postgame comments.

“We’re going to miss his presence,” Ginobili said after the game. He also said that it was “hard to see him limping and hurting.” Ginobili and Parker are among the winningest teammates in NBA regular season and playoff history, so it’s hard to imagine someone on the court missing Parker more than him.

If it weren’t for the enormous blow of losing Tony Parker, this game would have been a statement victory for the Spurs. They shot 54.5% from the field, a drastic improvement from their 36.9 field goal percentage in Game 1; and dished out 27 assists, compared to just 19 in that Game 1 loss.

Not only was San Antonio’s offense in rhythm Wednesday night, but their defense was much more intense than the lackadaisical defensive effort they put forth in the series opener. They held James Harden to just 13 points, his lowest scoring output in his career in the playoffs as a starter.

Harden shot a miserable 3-17 from the field in a game that hadn’t been out of reach for Houston until San Antonio won the fourth quarter 33-13. Ryan Anderson led the Rockets in scoring with an incredibly efficient 18 on 7-9 from the field (4-5 on threes) and Eric Gordon chipped in 15 on 6-12 shooting (3-7 on threes).

The only upside for Houston is that they’re returning home for these next two games. The Spurs losing Parker isn’t an upside for anybody, as even Patrick Beverley pointed out.

“I looked up to Tony when I was a kid trying to model my game after him,” Beverley said following his team’s loss. He went on to say what all NBA fans across the globe are thinking, “You definitely don’t want to see a person like that go down.”

That’s coming from the same Patrick Beverley whose comments following the Rockets’ first round series win over the Thunder were primed with trash talk directed at MVP candidate Russell Westbrook. Comments like Beverley’s speak to the character of Tony Parker; and that, his experience, and his leadership will all sorely be missed by the Spurs.

Parker is going to have an MRI Thursday to clarify the injury and the severity of the injury to the four-time NBA champion point guard. The Spurs are making it sound very unlikely Parker will be on the court for Game 3.

The Spurs will be leaning as heavily on Kawhi Leonard as they ever have in his young career, as he’ll be preparing for a road playoff game in a tied series without future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. If Leonard’s performance in Game 2 under pressure is any indication of what he’ll be bringing to the table in Game 3, then the Spurs are in good hands.

Leonard finished Game 2 with 34 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and three steals. Not only did he score a game-high 34, but he did so on 13-16 shooting from the field.

If Leonard continues playing at this level offensively while shutting down Harden on defense, the Spurs may be in the driver’s seat on their ride back to the Western Conference Finals with or without Parker.

Though, not having Parker means pulling Patty Mills from the bench and plugging him into the starting lineup and thus, weakening their bench. The most important stretches of Game 3 are going to be the times when both teams’ benches are on the court simultaneously.

Houston’s bench has made opponents all season pay, just ask the Thunder.

While the Spurs anxiously await Thursday’s MRI results, they’ll tentatively have to plan for the worst and prepare to miss one of the franchise’s leaders for potentially the rest of the postseason. Until those results come, it will be difficult to know what to make of this series moving forward.

Parker’s pertinence to San Antonio in postseasons past has been astronomical. And while he may not be as young as he once had been, he is still as irreplaceable as ever to this Spurs team.

Game 3 will be played in Houston, Friday, May 5th, at 9:30 PM EST, with or without Tony Parker on the court.

About Brandon Wentz

Mayor of the borough of Mt. Carbon, Pennsylvania. Disappointed fan of the Phoenix Suns. Humble narcissist. Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/thebighonch

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