Tony Parker: Going at Damian Lillard
SAN ANTONIO – Tony Parker absolutely had his way against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the second round on Tuesday night. In a 116-92 rout, the All-Star guard registered a game-high 33 points and nine assists in 36 minutes.
The San Antonio Spurs got him open throughout the course of the game for midrange jumpers using a high-ball pick, with the big, often being Robin Lopez, failing to step up enough to take away the shot.
It’s not all on the bigs, the guards have to do a better job of working off the screens. Or simple adjustments like trapping Parker on the ball-screen, getting him to pass the ball in order to make other guys beat you. That’s something Terry Stotts may have to consider with Parker being in such a good groove.
Whatever defensive modifications are put into place between now and Game 2, Damian Lillard recognizes his team won’t have a legit shot of reaching the Western Conference Finals if he isn’t able to do a better job on Parker. It’s a rigorous task he’s taking very personal.
“I want my team to win, and if we’re going to win, we’re going to have to slow him down as a team and I’m going to have to do a good job of being able to cover him,” Lillard told CSNNW.com.
“When you got guys like him, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook, you’re not going to stop them from doing what they do, but you can slow them down. And my whole job is trying to slow him down.”
Parker is so crafty with his offensive game. When he wasn’t nailing multiple midrange jump-shots, he was slicing to the lane with acrobatic finishes. It didn’t matter who was guarding him. He was in attack mode all night. His teammates set good ball screens and he took care of the rest.
Lillard being the competitor that he is, knows that he can’t do it all by himself. But these games are on national television. He’s playing on a grand stage. He’s not trying to go out like that. There’s too much pride involved. He’s not running from the laborious challenge of staying in front of Parker. The second-year star is embracing it.
“It’s an opportunity to show that I can guard,” he said. “If we’re going to have a chance to move on, I’m going to have to defend against him and I’m ready to go out there and do it. It’s tough as we see, but I’m not running from it.”
Game 2 is Thursday night at the AT&T Center.