When it’s trade deadline day in the NBA, there’s no better place for a player to be than somewhere in the Pacific time zone.
With a mid-afternoon deadline established for the convenience of the league office in New York City, Spurs and Clippers were able to enjoy a hearty pre-game lunch without washing it down with antacids to battle nerves that a trade could be looming.
Before and after beating the Clippers for the first time this season, a thorough 116-90 domination in which point guard Tony Parker notched his 10th game of 30 or more points, the Spurs enjoyed the best record in the league, now 44-12.
It was San Antonio’s 16th win in its last 17 games and its fifth straight. The Spurs are now 6-1 on the nine-game rodeo road trip.
And the Clippers? They’ve still won four of their last five games and are still putting some heat on both the Spurs and the second-place Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western race, though they must be smarting after Thursday’s embarrassment on their home court.
Far from broken, there was no need to fix either team, though both did their due diligence.
“There just wasn’t anything out there I thought made us better,” said Spurs coach and president of basketball Gregg Popovich. “Everybody’s on the phones, all the GMs. If there’s something that can make your team better people do it. Obviously, we didn’t think there was anything that could help us right now.”
For sure the list of players Popovich would even consider taking in exchange for Parker would be extremely short and after Thursday’s game it might even exclude Chris Paul, the All-Star Game MVP. Parker dominated his point guard matchup with Paul, finishing with 31 points and seven assists without playing in the fourth quarter or committing a turnover.
Paul scored just four points, had only three assists and turned the ball over three times.
“He’s just been magnificent all year long,” Popovich said. “He’s led the way for us with the injuries to Manu (Goinobili) and Tim (Duncan) and the minutes they haven’t been able to play He’s really relished the situation and taken it on, responsibility-wise, and driven us on.”
The blowout win allowed Popovich to give Parker, Duncan and Ginobili short court time. None of the Big Three played more than 28 minutes and Duncan logged just 16.
Duncan sat out the entire second and fourth quarters so he will be fresh for tonight’s game against the Warriors. He found his role as spectator to Parker’s brilliance gratifying.
“He was unbelievable,” Duncan said. “He just continued to attack, continued to be aggressive, making plays, left and right. It was fun to watch. It was fun to watch the whole team clicking like that and playing such a good game, start to finish.”
Popovich understands the tension that builds in the locker room until the deadline passes. Players who see their names in pre-deadline speculation welcomed its passing.
Tony Parker & Co. drive point home against Clippers
San Antonio Express-News | Feb 22