The Wee Frenchman, the baguette to Boris' croissant, the Parisian Torpedo, variété de maladies himself returned to action on Sunday night. How did he look? Well, he hadn't played with the Spurs in three weeks so I expected a little bit of rust. Tony Parker came out fully greased, with a rebuilt carburetor and a full tank of gas. On the Spurs' first possession he came off of a Timmy screen and drove through the lane for an easy layup. Then he drove into the lane off a Duncan screen and found Kawhi Leonard wide open for three points. Then he tried out his jumper, going left, off another Duncan screen -- it's still finely tuned.
And then this happened. Tony flies down the court and evades Monta Ellis' harebrained steal attempt, which was a very poor decision and we'll leave it at that. With Monta 10 feet out of the play, Tony uses a Timmy back-screen to get by Dirk (drawing a reach-in in the process,) goes 30° from horizontal and gets the ball to go with some French high off the glass for the and-one. After knocking down the free throw the Spurs were up 12-8 halfway through the first and Parker had seven plus the assist on the Whi triple. Tony Parker is really good at basketball.
Tony wasn't done making his mark on the quarter though, and he hit a three-pointer two minutes later after a nice move into the lane from Boris Diaw, followed by a French Connection that found Parker all alone just below the break.
ln this next GIF we see the Spurs just getting into the half-court after the transition, and there's already all kinds of movement from the Spurs. Manu wastes no time as he stops at the top of the arc and delivers a great pass to Diaw. Why was Boris open? Because he turns inside the defense of Vince Carter, who looks like he was expecting a run out to the three-point line. What resulted was an uncontested two-footer for the big Frenchman. The Dallas defense is clearly unequipped to handle that kind of quickness and chemistry. Shawn Marion is lucky that Boris was so wide open, or we'd be talking about the wide-open three that Marco hit off of an awesome Boris pass after Marion lost his man.
See, chemistry: The Foreign Legion, Bili MiNelli, the second unit, whatever you call them, they're dangerous. This is especially true when they're all healthy. Marco, Manu, and Boris are all very well-rounded players that have pretty unique games, each has a high BBIQ and they can all create for themselves and for others. Stir in a little Mills, who can certainly light it up, and it doesn't really matter who the fifth guy is all that much. The Mavs were lucky once again that Boris was as open as he was, because the reigning three-point shootout champion might have been even more wide open on this play. Same result though: a great pass from Gino to an open Boris two feet from the basket.
Notice now Carter is directing traffic on defense as his man drifts underneath the hoop. You can't say that Vinc Carte entirely ignored Boris on this possession because he does turn to watch Diaw lay the ball off the glass. Man I hope the Spurs get the Mavs in the first round.
Okay, maybe it's not that hard to get an assist when you can just get the ball to Boris under the basket. Aron Baynes tallied his 22nd assist of the season when he wisely decides to not shoot a jumper interrupts himself mid-jumpshot to pass it to Diaw. Boris was probably excited that he had to actually use some of those great post-moves on this one. He dribbles and fakes to lose Nowitzki, pivots while keeping the ball out of Devin Harris' reach, and finally spins and finishes on the opposite side of the rim, well out of Dirk's reach.
Tim and Tony have played more than a few games together during their careers. Here's a pick-and-roll with the longtime teammates. Tony curls around a Duncan screen and finds the rolling Duncan with a sweet pocket pass. No dribbles from Timmy as he gets into the lane and adjusts midair to get a lefty-layup to go. I wonder how many pick-and-rolls those two have run together in games. O/U 4000. [Editor's note: Shoot, that might be a bit low. - jrw]
Here we see Tiago get the ball to Big Fun inside the restricted area. Tim seals off Brandon Wright 12 feet from the hoop which leaves Tiago a lot of room to make the pass. Tim gives the slightest of fakes to get Wright off of his feet and the veteran big waits for the contact before getting a wildly difficult layup to go for the and-one. He flipped that up behind his head. Ladies and gentlemen, Tim Duncan.
This is the play that sealed the win for the Spurs. It starts with a miss from Boris, who gets his own rebound and slings the ball to Kawhi as he's falling out of bounds. Whi gives it up to Tony who runs a bunch of clock (not seen.) The Mavs have brought Dirk out to help with Tony which I guess is something that you can do. Tony gives a slight fake right before he just blows by the German. Dirk gives chase, but loses him immediately and Tony gets into the paint and finishes with a hanging, left-hander off of the backboard. As Fred noted in his recap, Tony is now The Finisher. This play put the Spurs up seven with 45 seconds left. It was just free-throws from there to notch the win.