San Antonio Spurs: Playoff March launches from Houston

Recent All-Star Weekends in Texas have had a distinct flavor when it comes to proponents of the San Antonio Spurs. Houston in 2006 was an urban-themed coming out party for Tony Parker as a baller and fledgling rhyme-sayer. Dallas in 2010 was dominated by the excess of Cowboys Stadium, aka Jerry World and the record crowd of 108,713 hoops junkies who gathered to watch a meaningless game.

Last weekend in Houston had a familiar Spurs vibe with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Coach Pop representing the Spurs, and Matt Bonner along for the ride. All-Star Saturday Night lacked the punch of past performances with the H-Town crowd slowly filling in and Parker meekly passing his Skills Challenge crown to Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers. Bonner held his own in the Three-Point Competition before succumbing to Cleveland Cavaliers wunderkind Kyrie Irving, while the dunk contest was somewhat forgettable.

On Sunday prior to All-Star Game intro’s, Duncan and Parker traded jumpers, with Timmy at the line and Tony on the right wing. On the other side of the court Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard goofed around with some ballboys before launching a series of half court hook shots to the delight of the arriving crowd. After an inspiring national anthem from John Legend, the West went to work with Parker eventually dribbling the ball through Chris Bosh’s legs and even Pop getting into the act by chewing out Howard for his lack of focus, in an All-Star Game. Tim Duncan essentially took the night off, playing only eight minutes in the highly entertaining 143-138 win for the West.

“I mean those guys are the best in the world and they competed and worked hard,” said Coach Pop at the end of the night, reflecting on the games intensity. “They respected the game. They respected each other. Nobody got hurt. The fans had a great time. That's what it's all about.”

Since the break, the Spurs have gone 2-0 in impressive wins over the Kings in Sacramento and the Clippers in Los Angeles, with Parker playing MVP caliber ball. People in San Antonio have been watching him play the game of basketball for twelve seasons now, but rarely at this level, and with such consistency. When the Spurs take the floor tonight in Oakland against Stephen Curry and the Warriors, expect more fireworks from Parker at a relentless pace. — M. Solis


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