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Parker returns, leads Spurs past Mavs

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SAN ANTONIO – Guard Tony Parker lobbied to return to the San Antonio Spurs’ lineup on Friday against Charlotte. His coach, Gregg Popovich, elected to hold Parker out one more game.

Popovich’s decision worked out well for the Spurs. They beat Charlotte without Parker. Then Parker, back after missing six games, scored 22 points and handed out seven assists in 32 minutes as the Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks 112-106 Sunday night.

San Antonio (43-16) won for the sixth time in seven games. Dallas (36-25) has lost eight straight games to the Spurs.

Parker, the Spurs’ point guard, was assigned to the bench by Popovich during recent games to a recover from mental fatigue and a variety of nagging injuries.

“I felt good,” Parker said. “I felt fresh. I felt like I had my legs.”

Indeed, Parker looked fresh down the stretch, making a driving layup that gave the Spurs a seven-point lead with 45.8 seconds left.

“We have another closer on the floor,” Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard said. “In the fourth quarter, he always makes a good pass or a shot.”

Parker converted 10 of 15 shots and committed only one turnover.

“He played a good floor game and he delivered offense at the same time,” Popovich said.

Forward Tim Duncan produced 17 points and nine rebounds for the Spurs, and Leonard scored 16 points.

San Antonio reserve forward Boris Diaw contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Manu Ginobili, also a sub, scored all 15 of his points in the second half. He also had seven assists.

Forward Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 22 points, one more than guard Vince Carter’s total. Mavericks guard Monta Ellis scored 17.

Parker was dazzling early, scoring 10 points in the first eight minutes. He displayed his usual array of driving shots and also made a 3-point basket. Midway through the first quarter, Parker scooped in a layup off the backboard as he was falling to the ground, fouled on the play by Nowitzki.

The Spurs took leads of nine points in the first quarter and 10 in the second, but they never could maintain separation.

Turnovers prevented the Spurs from pulling away. San Antonio gave the ball away seven times in the second period, and the Mavs turned those into seven points.

Parker scored just two more points in the half after the 10 early ones. Meanwhile, Carter came off the Dallas bench to contribute 15 in the half — 11 during the second quarter.

Ginobili took care of separation pretty much by himself in the third quarter. He scored the last 10 points of the period, giving the Spurs a 78-70 lead. Ginobili made two 3-point baskets and four free throws during that stretch.

The Spurs are finally healthy after a long stretch with key players missing. Ginobili missed eight games with a hamstring injury. Leonard was gone for 14 games with a fractured hand. Guard Danny Green was out for 10 games with a broken finger. Center Tiago Splitter missed 12 games with a strained shoulder.

Now the Spurs have Parker, their only NBA all-star this season.

Ginobili was impressed.

“I usually come back slow, get limited minutes, and can’t make a shot,” Ginobili said. “He was sharp.”

Nowitzki said the Mavs lost the game on defense, not offense.

“We scored 106 in this building, that’s pretty good,” Nowitzki said. “I thought Parker looked great again coming out from a nice little break that they can afford to give him. They play well together. They are a tough team to defend.”

NOTES: Dallas recalled rookie G Shane Larkin and second-year F Jae Crowder from the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League. They shuttled recently between the Mavericks and the Legends to get playing time. Neither got off the bench Sunday night. … The Spurs were 5-1 in games without G Tony Parker, who was ordered to rest up by coach Gregg Popovich. Included were victories at the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland. The only defeat was at Phoenix. … The Mavs lost to the Chicago Bulls 100-91 Friday in Dallas after blowing a 16-point, second-quarter lead, marking their sixth defeat this season after squandering an advantage that big. … The Spurs’ last two victories without Parker were attained largely through big second halves by G Manu Ginobili. The Spurs’ reserve scored all 16 of his points in the second half against the Detroit Pistons. He scored 13 of his 15 in the second half against the Charlotte Bobcats as the Spurs erased a 14-point second-quarter deficit.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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