Parker powers Spurs past Suns 108-99
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — It's easy to see why Tony Parker is headed to another All-Star game.
Parker had 31 points and seven assists, and the San Antonio Spurs earned their eighth consecutive win by shutting down the Phoenix Suns in the final quarter for a 108-99 victory on Saturday night.
"He is unbelievable," said teammate Manu Ginobili, who had 20 points. "I cannot say he became a fourth-quarter finisher this year because of how he played last year, especially in the first two months. But he is in that point of his career where he is so confident. He is doing so good that he can relax a little bit in the first half then when we need him, he starts making those jumpers and takes over."
Tiago Splitter had 13 points and Boris Diaw finished with 11 for San Antonio (36-11), which has won 16 in a row at home.
Michael Beasley had 25 points and Jared Dudley scored 23 for the Suns (15-29), who lost for the first time since coach Lindsey Hunter took over.
"He's their best player," Dudley said of Parker. "He's their best offensive threat. He knows their offense. If they don't have him, I know the Spurs are always good, but they can't win without him."
Playing without Tim Duncan (sore knee) and coach Gregg Popovich (illness) for a third consecutive game, the Spurs needed a clutch performance from Parker in the fourth and he stepped up again.
Showing no ill effects from a blow to the head by Elton Brand that required three stitches during a 113-107 victory at Dallas on Friday night, Parker had 11 points and five assists as San Antonio outscored Phoenix 27-17 in the fourth, forcing six turnovers in the period. The speedy point guard finished 13 for 17 from the field and only had three turnovers in 34 minutes.
The Spurs turned up their defensive pressure in the final period, forcing three turnovers and three missed shots while building a 96-88 lead with 6:21 remaining. Parker had four points and an assist in the 7-0 run, including racing down the court for a layup after stepping in front of a pass by Markieff Morris.
"Over the last few years it is becoming my team and coach Pop is always challenging me to become the franchise player who closes games and makes good decisions with the ball offensively for myself and my teammates," Parker said. "I always take to heart Pop's challenges."
San Antonio grabbed control after Ginobili was knocked down by Shannon Brown with 31.4 seconds left in the third, leading to a flagrant foul and an ejection.
Brown struck Ginobili violently across the side of the head as he attempted to recover defensively after getting beat off the dribble. Ginobili also was undercut by Morris almost simultaneously, leading to loud jeers by the crowd. The ejection shocked Brown, who watched mouth agape as the foul was replayed on the video screen.
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