for this game

Parker leads shorthanded Spurs over Mavs

Feb 25, 2009 - 5:17 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Tony Parker knew what he had to do.

Parker had 37 points and a season-high 12 assists as the San Antonio Spurs won without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, posting a 93-76 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

The All-Star point guard, normally just one of the "Big Three," was the big dog for one night.

"We found out that Timmy was not going to play. I knew that I was going to have to step up my game, be aggressive and make plays, make stuff happen," Parker said.

Former Maverick Michael Finley scored 16 points and Kurt Thomas added 10 and 15 rebounds for the Spurs, who returned home after their eight-game road trip while the rodeo was at the AT&T Center.

Duncan, however, did not play with a sore right knee. The seriousness of the injury remains unclear, as the team has not elaborated on his absence.

"He'll see the doctors in the morning and we'll see what they say," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

"His knee didn't have any strength and he couldn't get it warmed up, he couldn't get it loosened up. It's very strange ... he was good this morning, but this evening he couldn't move it. So we sat him."

In his stead, the Spurs had four of their five starters score in double figures and took a 32-19 lead after the first quarter to set the tone for the game.

It was a triumphant return home for San Antonio, which appeared to be falling apart in consecutive road setbacks at Toronto and New York but bounced back with wins at Detroit and Washington to close its swing.

The wins were more impressive considering that sixth man Ginobili missed both games with a stress reaction in his right ankle. The star guard is expected to miss two to three weeks.

With both Ginobili and Duncan sidelined in this one, the Spurs relied on Parker, who shot 15-of-32 from the field.

"I felt pretty good," Parker said. "I was having cramps in the fourth quarter. That's why I was missing all those layups. I was having cramps. I told Pop to just leave me in and I'll make stuff happen."

The Frenchman attempted his second-most shots this season, behind only the 36 he hoisted on November 5, when he scored a season-high 55 points in a double-overtime win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

But the way Popovich saw it, Parker was more than just a shoot-first player on this night.

"I thought Tony Parker was a super-stud tonight," the coach said. "Not just because he scored, but he played defense. He ran the show out there and kept everybody involved."

Parker started his scoring burst in the first quarter, when he hit eight straight shots for the Spurs en route to a 18 points in the opening 12 minutes. San Antonio shot 16-of-23 from the field (70 percent) in the period.

The Mavs started the second quarter with a 9-0 run, until Matt Bonner ended the burst with five straight points before a layup from Parker ended the 7-0 run and helped the Spurs keep an 11-point lead midway through the period.

Dallas, however, outscored San Antonio, 25-18, in the second and faced a six-point deficit at halftime.

The second half was an uphill battled thanks to the struggles of Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 14 points on just 5-of-15 shooting. The Mavs have lost three of their last five.

"The Spurs did a great job taking the easy shots away from Dirk with the double-team," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "We just weren't able to take advantage of the weak side opportunity tonight.

"We had good looks, and at times, we shot when we should have dribbled. The Spurs did a good job, and we needed to do a lot better."

Both Carlisle and Nowitzki, however, were thankful for two things - the absences of Duncan and Ginobili.

"I can only shudder to think what would have happened tonight with Tim and Manu on the floor," Carlisle said.

"It was defensively a gift that Duncan was out tonight, and we didn't take it," Nowitzki said.

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