Tony Parker Wins NBA Player of the Night with Last-Second Heroics vs Thunder
Just one NBA game was played Thursday night, yet plenty of the league's superstars still shined.
Kevin Durant continued to be Kevin Durant, putting up 23 points and 14 rebounds on 50 percent shooting for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tim Duncan continued to turn back the clock, pitching in 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the San Antonio Spurs.
Even Kevin Martin shined in his debut for the Thunder, scoring 15 points and dishing out five assists off the bench for Oklahoma City.
Despite such top-notch performances, though, the night belonged to one man—Tony Parker. His last-second accolades pushed the perpetually undervalued Spurs to a second-straight victory over an explosive Thunder team.
Stat Line: 14 points, 11 assists, three rebounds, 46.1 percent shooting and 1-of-2 free throws in 35 minutes.
On the surface, this was just like any other game for Parker. One could even argue he didn't quite play up to his usual standard.
But his stat line—as mediocre as it may seem—doesn't matter. Because he came through when it counted.
Parker spent most of the night being a catalyst, fueling San Antonio's offense with his precise passing and dribble penetration.
When the fourth quarter arrived, though, he hit several key shots himself, none more crucial than the one that won the game for his team.
With 5.9 seconds remaining and the game tied at 84, the Spurs in-bounded the ball to Danny Green, who dumped it off to Parker on the weak side. Duncan then came over the top, set a nice screen for Parker, who then took one dribble inside the three-point line and let the rock fly—with Serge Ibaka closing in no less—as time expired.
It ripped through the bottom of the net to give San Antonio an 86-84 victory over Oklahoma City.
No, Parker didn't drop 30 points, but he posted a double-double with an efficient 46.1 percent shooting field.
His three-point shooting continued to impress as well. He's picking his spots more carefully, and it shows. He was 1-of-2 Thursday, and is now 2-of-3 on the season, including a dagger that put the Spurs ahead for good in their opening-night victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
Which player was the NBA's top performer Thursday night?
So, naturally, it doesn't matter that Parker took just 13 shots. It doesn't matter that Durant led all scorers with 23 points. And it certainly doesn't matter that Parker didn't even lead his team in scoring.
What matters is he dished out a game-high 11 dimes. What matters is he turned up the intensity in the final quarter.
What matters his he willed San Antonio to victory in the game's closing seconds.
"The last shot, he still made a tough shot over Serge," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks (via Mark Price of NBA.com) said. "That's not an easy hand to shoot over."
No, that isn't an easy hand to shooter over and that wasn't an easy shot to make.
But Parker made it.
And the Spurs remain undefeated because of it.
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