OKC Thunder: Spurs' Tony Parker turns in performance even Gregg Popovich can love

BERRY TRAMEL COMMENTARY — San Antonio's Tony Parker says he's gotten good at figuring out what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wants from his ballplayers. Parker did plenty to gain praise from his coach Tuesday, torching the Thunder for 34 points on 16-of-21 shooting.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 30, 2012

“Parker was on fire,” said Scotty Brooks. “He made four tough twos, which we call anything that's contested outside the paint. So those are the shots that you have to live with.”

Brooks has his own salty point guard in Russell Westbrook, who is not the conductor that Parker is. Or the elder statesman. Westbrook – who had a monster game himself, with 27 points, eight assists and no turnovers – can play out of control and did at times Tuesday night.

But so did Parker when he was a young Spur.

“When you have Coach Pop screaming at you every day, it will make you pass the ball,” Parker said. “He is always big on you have to find a better shot.”

Sometimes, the Spurs' better shot is when Parker launches. Parker has become the Spurs' best player, surpassing franchise icon Tim Duncan. Parker makes the Spurs go, and if the Thunder plan in this series is to turn Parker into an indecisive, befuddled point guard, good luck.

Much more likely, the Thunder will have to outscore the Spurs, who after a shaky start in Game 1 have now averaged 32 points a quarter the last five periods.

“Just one of those nights,” Parker said. “The first game … I was a little too much in a hurry. So this game, I took my time and waited for my moment, especially on the pick-and-rolls when they doubled me.”

It's looking like the Thunder is going to have to show some patience, too, to make the NBA Finals. Winning this series now is a tall task – four of five against a team that has won 20 straight, and has a point guard playing so well, even his coach has to figure out what to yell about.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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