Last week Project Spurs looked at Tim Duncan’s top five games of his career. There were requests to see a list of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili’s top five games as well, so today we will look at Parker's.
Parker has come a long way since his first couple seasons in the league. He was an inconsistent point guard without a jump shot. Even though he was one of the quickest players in the NBA, teams learned how to force him to take jump shots. Over the last couple seasons Parker has changed the form on his jump shot and accepted the challenge to shoot from 20-feet. With these changes to his game and an increased role within the Spurs offense, Parker begun making the All-Star team. It’s no coincidence all five games came in the last three seasons and four of his top five regular season games, according to John Hollinger’s Game Score, came in 2008-2009.
These are my top five games. What are yours?
5. Spurs v. Suns 5/6/2007 West Semifinal Game 1 – The Phoenix Suns had the home court advantage and this was supposed to be their best chance at getting past the Spurs. Many people will remember this game for Steve Nash’s bloody nose that kept him out of the final minute of the game. However, Parker played a big part in stealing home court advantage.
Parker finished the game with 32 points on 14-of-22 shooting, eight assists and three steals. Throughout Parker’s career he has torched the Suns time and time again. This was not his highest scoring affair but it was one of his most important. If the Spurs lost this game then it would have changed the dynamic of the series greatly.
4. Spurs v. Hawks 3/25/2009 – Parker’s role with the Spurs changed in 2008-2009. With Manu Ginobili on the shelf for half the season and Tim Duncan’s productivity slipping towards the end of the season, the Spurs relied heavily on Parker to score. He welcomed the opportunity and had his best season yet.
One of his best games came against the Hawks towards the end of the season. Parker finished with 42 points on 18-of-25 shooting, 10 assists and one steal. One thing to note from this game and the season as a whole, was even when Parker made scoring his goal he was able to find his teammates. His three point shot still was not consistent but his mid-range shot was reliable and he punished opponents that dared him to shoot.
3. Spurs v. Mavericks 4/20/2009 First Round Game 2 - Ultimately the Spurs lost this series 4-1 and were clearly outmatched by the Mavericks. Without Manu Ginobili the Spurs had no chance at winning. However, Parker did not role over and just let the Mavericks win easily.
In the Spurs only win Parker finished with 38 points on 16-of-22 shooting, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. Jason Kidd was no match for Parker who found his way to the basket at will. Parker’s ability to finish around the rim were unmatched and he carried the Spurs to their only victory.
2. Spurs v. Suns 4/25/2008 First Round Game 3 – Once again we see the Suns pop up on a best game list. It’s not too shocking considering they don’t really have anybody to defend Parker…or Duncan and Ginobili. Parker has always been able to find his way to the rim easily against the Suns.
The Spurs led 2-0 in the series coming into Game 3 and the Suns had to win at home if they had any chance at bouncing back. Parker made sure this was not possible. He finished with 41 points on 17-of-26 shooting, 12 assists, five rebounds and two steals. He was assertive throughout the game and the whole series really, not only looking for his shot but also his teammates. This performance helped put the finishing touches on the Suns.
1. Spurs v. Timberwolves 11/05/2008 – The Spurs were 0-3 when they traveled up to Minnesota. They were without Ginobili and looked completely out of sync, definitely not playing like the Spurs we were all used to. The defense was spotty and the offense was not clicking.
Parker put the team on his back and made sure that they would get their first win of the season. He finished with 55 points on 22-of-36 shooting, 2-of-3 on three pointers, 9-of-10 on free throws, 10 assists and seven rebounds. His best moment came at the end of the first overtime. Al Jefferson’s turnaround hook shot gave the Wolves a 116-114 lead with two and a half seconds left. Parker received the inbounds pass and drained a 20-foot shot at the buzzer. He then scored six of the Spurs first eight points in the second overtime. This was the first indication of what was to come throughout the season and Parker asserted himself as the Spurs' go-to player time and time again.
Please leave us a comment on these games and other memorable games from Tony Parker and check back soon for Manu Ginobili's top 5 plays.