Are you talking about me?
Tony did something in Game 3 I’ve never seen him do; he hit clutch shots (three fourth quarter jumpers) and helped put the game away.
In last night’s Game 5, I saw him do something else I haven’t ever seen from him: he hulked up, like Manu does. What do I mean by that?
After Tony absorbed the flagrant from Najera, he did his usual lying-on-the-court-for-an-extended-period before getting up, but then, after the free throws, he drove right back into the lane and took another hard foul; this time, without a reaction of any kind. He nailed both FT’s and after a turnover by Dirk, he hit a pretty jumper.
This is exactly how Manu always reacts whenever a team roughs him up, but I’ve not witnessed another Spur take that mantle on. If you include Tony’s basket as he was fouled, then that’s the whole 7-0 run at the end of the 2nd quarter. Who’s to say whether he can continue to develop as a BAM (literally and figuratively) but as an optimist, I’m contractually obligated to find a silver lining in every game, and for me, this was Game 5’s.
SpurredOn disagreed with my comment about Tony's lack of clutch games:
That can’t be right. Game 4 @ CLE in the ‘07 Finals. Game 4 @ DEN ’05 first round. That’s just from the top of my head.
I started a reply to him that I lost all control of. So it's going here. Follow me beyond the jump as I get into the details of these games to see who's right, and who's toast. (I'm kidding SpurredOn: hopefully you'll enjoy this exercise too. It was meant in good fun.)
SpurredOn, let me take your second example first:
Game 4 @ DEN in '05, first round - The Nuggs took the first, and we won the next 4. Game 4 was DEN trying to equalize, and it was a nail-biter, going into overtime. The fourth quarter was very tense with back-and-forth buckets, Manu and Tony each hit a single shot toward the end of the 4th, but it was Duncan scoring 3 possessions in a row who'd claim crunch time honors in regulation time.
The overtime period did belong to Parker, as he took control after Timmeh fouled out. The Baguette helped the Spurs pull away to beat the DEN by 11, and while I'm not downplaying his role in the victory, a double-digit win isn't exactly what I'd call a clutch situation - overtime notwithstanding.
Now to your first:
Game 4 @ CLE in the ‘07 Finals -- I'd forgotten that the final score of the sweep game was this close: 83-82. While CLE did outscore the Spurs by 7 in the quarter they never had the ball with a chance to take the lead and the final score was due to a 9 to 4 CLE run in the last 16 seconds that consisted of them taking desperation 3 pointers versus our FT's - LeBron's final three was at the buzzer.
Anyway, what about Tony being clutch? I hear you asking. Well, as you can see from the play-by-play, all but 6 of the Spurs' 23 fourth quarter points were scored by Duncan and Ginobili (except for a Finley FT, and two Oberto buckets [assisted by Manu and Tim] one a 3 pt play). Parker didn't have any late-game heroics in that game.
I'm thinking that a four point victory (if not for LBJ's meaningless 3 as time expired) does not exactly equal a clutch situation, <em>especially</em> with us in a commanding 3-0 series lead. That series was not in doubt from the moment Game 3 ended with LeBron missing a shot to send it into overtime.
Maybe that's the game you meant:
Game 3 @ CLE in the ‘07 Finals -- this game's fourth quarter started with the Spurs up 5. Tony had 5 points in the quarter: a jumper with over 7 minutes left, and a 3ptr with 60 seconds remaining. That was a big bucket from Tony, as CLE had made a 10-2 run that pulled them to within 2 points. But that's not comparable, in my mind, to his recent Game 3 performance.
Which I'll detail now:
Game 3 against the Dallas Mavericks -- this fourth quarter started with DAL up by four, 70-66. The whole quarter was very close as you can see in this game flow. The first 4:10 of the quarter see the Spurs go on a 12-3 run, featuring Manu Ginobili and George Hill, to go up by 5. Then the Mavs go on a 8-2 streak to go up by 1. Which brings us to the final 3:02 of the game, and that's where the fun starts.
Three straight long jumpers from Tony Parker from 2:33 to :51 in the fourth quarter put the Spurs up by five points and force Dallas to foul and shoot threes for the remainder of the game. No one else on the court scores during this time. The game was in the balance. Dallas was was in deny-Manu mode. Tony took the game by the throat and shook until it game him its lunch money. He was carried the team in crunch time and that was that: end of story.
That's the kind of thing Manu does regularly. That's the performance that the team used to rely on Duncan for on a nightly basis. So, maybe there are other games out there that you guys can find. And if so, I'll be willing to consider them all to see if I've forgotten a previous <em>sustained </em>clutch-time performance of Parker's. But for now, I'll think of last Friday as the first time Tony showed me something like that. And I'm hoping it's not the last.