You know that zone Kobe Bryant sometimes enters when his desire to win is so palpable, so strong, that he wills his team to victory, carrying 7-footers on his back, growling and gritting his teeth in the process?
Tony Parker has that too — only his version involves far fewer facial expressions.
When the Lakers came to San Antonio a week ago, they wreaked havoc on the Spurs, sailing to a 98-84 win. Tony Parker had one of his poorest performances of the season in that game, a woeful four points on 2-for-12 shooting.
The teams played again Tuesday evening. This time, Parker said that he was “in attack mode.”
“Pop told me before the game that he wanted me to shoot 20 times and be aggressive,” Parker said of Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich. “And that’s what I did.”
Parker led all scorers with 29 points on 14-for-20 shooting and had 13 assists in the Spurs’ 112-91 victory. He weaved through the Lakers defense, rendering it completely ineffectual, restoring the Spurs’ confidence with each seemingly effortless penetration and pull-up jumper.
“Tony [Parker] had a great game,” Popovich said. “He didn’t have much of a game in San Antonio, but that’s the way things go. That’s why you have a whole season, and that’s why the playoffs are seven games, not two.”
Threat duly noted.
Parker said that the Spurs, who are at the top of the Western Conference, found April 11’s walloping by the Lakers so demoralizing that in the six days leading up to their rematch, not a word of it was discussed.
“We didn’t talk about it one time,” Parker said of a game in which his team was out-rebounded, 60-33.
This time, the Spurs shot 63% from the field in the first half and forced the Lakers to commit 19 turnovers on the game.
Parker said he used his earlier poor performance against the Lakers as motivation on Tuesday. If the teams meet again in the playoffs, he may use a similar tactic, recalling that barely scabbing wound.
“It’s not hard to remember,” he said.