Playing for the first time this season without Duncan, who sat out with a sore right knee, Parker had 37 points and 12 assists as the Spurs crushed Dallas 93-76 on Tuesday night in the worst offensive effort to date for the Mavericks.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said afterward he didn't know the severity of Duncan's injury. He said Duncan would be evaluated by doctors Wednesday morning, putting his status for San Antonio's back-to-back against Portland later that night in doubt.
Popovich said his All-Star forward appeared fine Tuesday morning but was stiff and had trouble getting loose while warming up. Duncan was not on the bench during the game.
"It was strange," Popovich said. "He was good this morning, but this evening he couldn't move on it."
The Spurs were already without Ginobili, who hasn't played since the All-Star break because of a stress reaction in his right ankle and is expected to miss at least two more weeks. The team then learned within an hour of tip-off that Duncan was also shelved.
Parker said he knew the Spurs weren't going to take risks with Duncan "so close to the playoffs." But he also relished the chance ahead of him.
"I love those opportunities," said Parker, who cramped up in the fourth quarter. "I'm not going to say I want to play every game like that, but you can show what you can do."
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was grateful it was only Parker out there.
"I can only shutter to think what would happen had [Duncan and Ginobili] played," Carlisle said.
The Mavericks shot 34 percent from the floor and were held below 80 points for the first time this season. Carlisle called the game a "[butt] kicking" and said his team only threw about "six tough minutes at them in the second quarter."
It was the first time this season Duncan sat out with an injury, and left the Spurs to manage again without two of their big three. The Spurs survived a rocky first few weeks without Parker and Ginobili, who at the time was still recovering from surgery on his other ankle.
Ginobili cheerleaded in street clothes as the Spurs won their third straight and improved to 18-2 when holding opponents below 89 points.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 points for the Mavericks, who are also still without one of their biggest offensive weapons, Jason Terry. The standout sixth man missed his sixth game with a break in his non-shooting hand.
Minus Duncan, Ginobili and Terry, the latest meeting in the Interstate 35 rivalry was a far cry from the 133-126 double-overtime thriller that the Spurs wrested in Dallas in December. But for Parker, he was more reminded of his 55-point night against Minnesota in November.
Difference was, Parker said he knew Dallas would play better defense than the Timberwolves. But the Mavericks conceded it wasn't good enough.
"I didn't think we were aggressive enough with him to get the ball out of his hands," Nowitzki said. "He got whatever he wanted."
Popovich did not mention Duncan's health in a pregame chat with reporters. But when the subject of the recent rash of notable injuries came up -- Ginobili, Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire, Boston's Kevin Garnett -- Popovich plainly stated that "everyone knows you got to have your horses to win it all."
Perhaps, but apparently not to get a win in February.
No Duncan and no Ginobili meant an obvious dependence on Parker from the start, but the Mavs still couldn't shut down what they knew was coming.
Parker set up Thomas for San Antonio's first bucket, then scored 16 straight San Antonio points on a mixture of long jumpers, twisting layups and runners. The one-man run only stopped when Parker zipped a no-look pass to Fabricio Oberto for an easy basket.
By the time Parker sat for his first breather with 2:26 left in the first quarter, the speedy Frenchman had a hand in all but two of San Antonio's 26 points.
Jose Barea had 16 points and reserve James Singleton had 14 for Dallas.
Popovich said Ginobili had a protective boot removed from his foot over the weekend and has limited himself to lifting weights and swimming in the pool. Popovich said he expects Ginobili to be on a treadmill soon. ... Even though the Spurs returned from their annual rodeo road trip 5-3, Popovich came home feeling robbed of the usual team-building the swing provides. He was frustrated, in part, because of the schedule being interrupted by the All-Star break. "It was too disjointed than what we wanted to get out of it," he said. ...The Mavs play their next three at home and will face the Spurs again March 4 in Dallas.
- Dan Crawford
- Luis Grillo
- Leon Wood