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Parker provides huge spark for Spurs

4/26/2003

PHOENIX (AP) -- Tony Parker found his shot, and the San Antonio Spurs find themselves back in control of their first-round playoff
series against the Phoenix Suns.

Parker, Stephen Jackson and others on Tim Duncan's supporting
cast made the Suns pay for their defensive strategy in a 99-86
victory Friday night.

Parker, 3-for-20 in the first two games of the series, made 12
of 21 shots -- most of them from long range -- for a career
playoff-high 29 points.

"Tony Parker's been important to us all year,'' Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich said. "When he scores, we're really tough.''

The Suns' only lead was 2-0 as San Antonio turned up the
physical intensity to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Game 4 is Sunday night in Phoenix.

"It's very frustrating to lose the game period, let alone the
homecourt advantage,'' the Suns' Stephon Marbury said. "But we've
been in this situation, so it's back to the drawing board. We've
been giving those guys a steady diet. We have to come up with
something different.''

Parker came out shooting, slump or no slump.

"I took the same shots the first two games, it's just today it
went in,'' he said. "I found a good rhythm. When you make your
first couple of shots, you feel pretty good.''

Jackson added 20 points despite foul trouble, Malik Rose scored
15 and Emanuel Ginobili 12.

"We said we wanted to make those other guys beat us,'' Marbury
said, "and they sure did tonight.''

Duncan scored just 11 points on 3-for-6 shooting but grabbed 23
rebounds, two shy of his career playoff best, as San Antonio
dominated the boards 51-35.

"If we can win like that, it's great. I've got no problem with
it,'' Duncan said. "I said from the beginning that they're going
to try to take me out of the series. My shots aren't going to come
easy. Those guys did a great job of shooting the ball tonight,
attacking the basket.''

David Robinson, who missed Game 2 with partially torn cartilage
in his left knee, started and had eight points and eight rebounds
in 27 minutes.

Marbury scored 25 points, Shawn Marion 18 and newly named Rookie
of the Year Amare Stoudemire added 17 for the Suns, who shot just
38 percent.

Duncan took only four shots in the first half, and the Spurs
still led 53-36.

"Every time he touches the ball, they double-team and
triple-team him,'' Parker said. "It's so good to have a superstar
who has so much confidence in his teammates.''

San Antonio outscored the Suns 17-6 over the last 5:39 of the
half. Jackson sank a pair of 3-pointers during the run before going
to the bench with three fouls. His replacement, Ginobili, also made
a pair of 3's.

Suns coach Frank Johnson said before the game that if the Spurs
were hitting from outside, his team would be in trouble. But even
with the double-teams on Duncan, he felt the Suns could have done a
better job of defending the perimeter.

"Parker made his, Jackson made his and Ginobili made some,''
Johnson said. "We're leaving them too wide open. We can't have
breakdowns like we had tonight.''

Phoenix scored the first eight points of the second half, five
by Marion, to cut the lead to 53-44. Rebound baskets by Robinson
and Bruce Bowen boosted the lead to 57-44, and the Spurs led 69-56
entering the fourth.

Phoenix briefly cut the lead to 10 before another San Antonio
outburst made it 79-58 on Jackson's basket with 8:12 to play.

Marion's breakaway stuff cut the lead to 94-84 with 2:15 to
play, but Jackson's 3-pointer on San Antonio's next possession
ended any comeback hopes.

The Spurs' starting guards -- Parker and Jackson -- were a
combined 12-for-18 from the field in the first half for 27 points.
Their Suns' counterparts, Marbury and Penny Hardaway, were 6-for-17
for 14 points. The Suns' Joe Johnson was 1-for-11 in the game.

Game notes
Jackson was the Suns' second-round draft pick in 1997 but
didn't make the team. ... Stoudemire froze Duncan with a fake, then
made a spin move with a reverse slam in the first quarter. ...
America West Arena was the only place in the Western Conference
where the Spurs didn't win in the regular season. ... Duncan
flattened Marbury with 6:44 to play in the third. Marbury held his
right wrist in pain but stayed in the game. ... Marion went down
from an elbow to the face from Robinson with 10½ minutes to play
but returned to the game a short time later. ... The Spurs'
reserves outscored the Suns' 29-13 in the game and 84-34 for the
series. ... Duncan's 20 defensive rebounds matched his career
playoff high.