SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- No matter how far the San Antonio Spurs go in
search of another NBA title, Tony Parker thinks they might never
match their practically perfect first half in their first playoff
game of the spring.
The Sacramento Kings? They were already thinking about Game 2 at
halftime of this humiliating defeat.
Parker scored 25 points and Nick Van Exel added 11 in the
decisive second quarter as the Spurs got their championship defense
off to a blazing start, taking a 34-point lead at halftime on the
way to a 122-88 rout of Sacramento on Saturday.
San Antonio's fleet-footed point guards led a 41-15 run in the
second quarter, hitting basket after basket with unnerving ease.
After the best regular season in franchise history, the top-seeded
defending champs showed their game is still sharp for the second
"It's the playoffs, and everybody is focused, everybody is very
motivated," Parker said. "Everybody was ready. We're not going to
shoot the ball like that every night, but that was a good feeling.
Game 2 is going to be different."
Parker already has two championship rings from his first five
years with the Spurs, but he's a bigger part of the club this
season than ever before. Even Tim Duncan, the three-time NBA Finals
MVP, claimed he's a supporting player -- just "part of the puzzle"
-- after Parker's latest dominant performance.
Parker's 9-of-11 first half was no surprise after his excellent
regular season as the Spurs' leading scorer. But three 3-pointers
from Van Exel, the seldom-used veteran guard who's retiring after
this season, were shockers from which the Kings couldn't recover.
"I wasn't surprised, because that's what he does," Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich said. "He relishes those situations. He likes to
take those shots. Hopefully his body will allow him to continue to
San Antonio, which lost its playoff opener to Denver last
season, made eight 3-pointers and 68 percent of its first-half
shots -- both franchise records for a playoff half. Ten Spurs scored
at least six points apiece in the game, and Popovich still got to
rest his stars for Game 2 on Tuesday in the best-of-seven series.
The second half was all garbage time in San Antonio's seventh
victory in the last eight playoff series openers -- and the biggest
postseason loss in the Kings' history.
"They beat the life out of us, basically," said Bonzi Wells,
who had 12 points for Sacramento. "If we were playing somebody
that hadn't won the championship, we'd be frustrated. But they're
the defending world champions, and they were really hyped."
Duncan had 11 points and seven rebounds while sitting out the
fourth quarter along with Parker, Bruce Bowen and Robert Horry.
Nazr Mohammed added 18 points and eight rebounds, hitting the
second 3-pointer of his NBA career in the final minute.
Mike Bibby scored 17 points and Ron Artest had 16 on 7-of-21
shooting for the Kings, whose newfound defensive intensity is lost
again after Artest labeled his surging club as "the team to beat"
in the first round.
Artest had nothing to say after the game: He was hit flush in
the mouth by Manu Ginobili's elbow while they scrambled for a loose
ball on the Spurs' opening possession, and the resulting cut in his
mouth required postgame medical treatment.
Sacramento entered the playoffs with 25 wins in its last 36
games, including nine of 11 to earn its eighth straight postseason
trip. But the Kings were thoroughly outrebounded and outworked in
their biggest defeat of the season, surpassing 26-point losses to
New Orleans and Dallas.
It also was the biggest margin of defeat in the Kings' playoff
history, besting a 30-point loss at Utah in the 1999 postseason
"We didn't come out with anything tonight. They just brought
way more energy than us," said Kenny Thomas, who had seven points.
"Tony got off to a great start, and we didn't contain him at all.
We just have to come in with a different approach, or maybe an
entirely different game plan for (Game 2)."
Parker penetrated the lane at will from the opening minutes, and
Ginobili also set the tone with several drives past Artest.
Sacramento actually kept it close in the first quarter, trailing
just 32-24 before Van Exel hit the first of his three 3-pointers to
open the second.
San Antonio made a 12-2 run before scoring 14 consecutive points
midway through the period, including eight more from Van Exel on a
pair of 3s and two free throws.
The AT&T Center crowd was as stunned as the Spurs when Michael
Finley's 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer rattled in and out,
sending San Antonio to the locker room up 73-39. The Spurs hit six
3-pointers in the second quarter while outrebounding Sacramento
Kings F Shareef Abdur-Rahim had six points and eight
rebounds in the first playoff game of his 10-season NBA career.
Abdur-Rahim played in 744 games for four NBA teams before reaching
the playoffs -- the second-longest drought in NBA history behind Tom
Van Arsdale. ... Artest was down for several seconds after getting
hit by Ginobili's elbow. He popped back up -- but not before a full
timeout was called just 18 seconds into the game.