Slowing Parker is job one for Blazers

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com


VIDEO: Can the Blazers bounce back in Game 2 vs. the Spurs?

SAN ANTONIO — Gregg Popovich knows a way to slow Tony Parker down. He sat him down for 19 days smack in the middle of the season.

It’s not quite that easy for the Trail Blazers, who have to figure job one in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals is to stop the Spurs’ All-Star point guard from running amok as he did in the series opener.

While all of the very deep San Antonio lineup washed over them like a sandcastle at the beach, it was Parker’s 33 points on 13-for-24 shooting that set the pace and kept the Blazers on their heels all night long.

Parker attacked Portland running the fast break and repeatedly pulled up to knock in mid-range jumpers as the Blazers’ defense concentrated on not letting him get to the rim.

According to the Blazers’ statistics, Parker shot 5-for-5 in the transition game and 8-for-12 when he was able to get into the paint.

“He’s going to get there sometimes,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “That’s what he does. We had him 5-for-12 on midrange shots. That’s a number we can live with. But 5-for-5 in transition, that’s a number we have to be better with.

“We have to keep the ball out of the middle as much as we can. The more we can keep him out of the paint, that takes away opportunities for him and his teammates.”

Those were opportunities that might have have come for the Spurs once more this springtime if Popovich hadn’t made the bold decision back on Feb. 10, following a loss at Detroit, to simply shut down his trigger man and leading scorer for nearly three weeks.

“I thought he was more mentally tired than physically tired,” Popovich explained. “He needed time away. No more shootarounds, no more game plans, the whole ball of wax. He just needed to shut down from it all.”

What looks like a perfectly logical move with a 31-year-old who is expected to carry so much of the offensive burden, was not exactly one that Parker swallowed easily. After all, Popovich did not take the same tack with 38-year-old Tim Duncan or 36-year-old Manu Ginobili.

“I [thought] it was too long,” Parker said. “At the same time, I trust Pop. He did a great job with me, Timmy, with Manu, managing us during the year to make sure we stay fresh for the playoffs. You can see the results.”

Including his Game 7 close-out performance in the first round over Dallas, Parker has rung up back-to-back 30-point games after hitting that level just three times during the entire regular season and appears energized.

The Spurs frequently ran Parker off picks against the Blazers and got him the open looks at the basket.

“I’m supposed to provide support,” said Portland center Robin Lopez, who stayed at home to guard the paint. “We’re encouraging him to take mid-range shots. Tony hit a few. In the best of all worlds, we’d be forcing everybody baseline.”

Parker was guarded during the game by Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and Wes Matthews. While the preference for Stotts may be to use the length of the 6-foot-9 Batum on Parker, making that shift would force the Blazers to be undersized in their other matchups against Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

“If you take Nic off Leonard, it opens things up for Kawhi and shifts everything down,” Stotts said. “But we’ve done things like that in the past. We have to be able to make those changes and subsequent adjustments.”

Which leaves the dilemma of how to slow Parker?

“You have to be physical with him, like Wes did at the end of the game,” Batum said. “Wes pushed him fullcourt. That’s what you have to do.”

15 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    The Blazers are going to walk into their locker room tomorrow to discover a jar petroleum jelly.

  2. okc2014 says:

    Tony Parker will not only NOT slow down, he will not stop. After it’s all said in done here in this country (NBA), he is going to make another splash in his own country. That is his master plan.

  3. latigo spurs rapper says:

    “so let me tell you now what will be your situation
    it’s the kind that will let you pick your poison
    cause you’ll never know what hit ya from the front and back
    you’ll never know how they will attack”
    - Lyrics from the song “WIN IT ALL FOR SAN ANTONIO” (music vid available in youtube) #GoSpursGo

  4. Moe says:

    Only one slowing down Parker is himself. I can smell WCF in 5 games if Blazers don’t show up.

  5. Jay says:

    SpursNation

  6. Mike says:

    Pacers are back playing basketball again. We are a stronger team than you.
    BLUE AND GOLD

    PACERS FOR LIFE

    ROY HIBBERT
    PAUL GEORGE
    DAVID WEST
    GEORGE HILL
    LANCE STEPHENSON

    That’s the starting 5 that will win the title this year.

    Can your team hold up against the Steel Curtain D for a series? #NOTGUNNAHAPPEN

    • ron says:

      whatever

    • #dwade#flash says:

      s2pd troll,hahahaha now you appeared out of nowhere after winning one game, ONE GAME incosistent wanna B’S

      B–ZZZ’s

    • Mike says:

      My name is Mike too, and you give us a bad name. The Pacers can shutdown a couple of average teams like the Wizards and Hawks (only just), but they wouldn’t stand a chance against the Spurs. Indiana wouldn’t have made it out of the 1st round in the West. Defence isn’t going to help when your offense resembles a couple of clowns trying to change a light bulb.

  7. Person says:

    How to slow down Tony Parker? Have A cheetah race him.

  8. Chris says:

    Only way to slow Parker down is to bang him up and hope the refs don’t notice. If you’re OKC this usually works, and typically generates free throws if you breathe on the guy who forced the turnover.

  9. chuful29 says:

    If you want to slow parker, then stotts need to do what carlisle did. The only problem in that is that even if you somehow slow TP down, the whole offense concept shifts to Manu in which the spurs have the luxury of doing so. Dallas has not figured that one yet.

    Pick your poison.

    Dallas defended the 3pt line and slowed parker down but left Manu with all the unexplainable moves and playmaking.

    • Zac says:

      of course your guards have to play full court defense against manu and parker on every single possession, there is no easier way to make the opposing playmaker tired! have them sprint full court every time instead of walking to the opposing half, wait 10 seconds, then attack the rim!

    • DRAGONFORMVP says:

      The Big problem for Dallas is without Dalembert or Blair they can’t penetrators, they could handle Manu and Parker easy but only if they have Devin Harris and Shawn Marion.

  10. theholyspectator says:

    who hasnt tried slowing down the frenchmen? spurs and okc wcf..