Parker fades after strong start in Game 4 loss

Parker fades after strong start in Game 4 loss

June 14th, 2013 by Associated Press in Sports - Professional

San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker drives as Miami Heat's Chris Bosh defends during the first half at Game 4 of the NBA Finals basketball series, Thursday, June 13, 2013, in San Antonio.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

SAN ANTONIO - Tony Parker was back. Maybe the San Antonio Spurs don't need to worry about his health.

They can start fretting over another problem, though: Miami has tied this series.

Parker started Game 4 of the NBA Finals looking spectacular and showing no signs of a mild hamstring strain that put his status in doubt until Thursday morning. But he didn't score in the second half and took just four shots, finishing with 15 points and nine assists.

The Spurs faded along with their All-Star point guard, losing to the resurgent Heat 109-93.

Now the series is tied 2-all heading into the final home game for San Antonio on Sunday night. Parker appears OK to play, but the Spurs might need him to be spectacular again to win a fifth championship.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said health wasn't Parker's problem.

"Miami did a great job on him," Popovich said. "They doubled. They got it out of his hands and other people had to play."

Parker was 7 of 16 and reached the foul line just three times. It was a sudden disappearing act after scoring or assisting on 12 of the Spurs' first 16 field goals.

If there were lingering problems from his hamstring, Parker didn't make it obvious. He played 31 minutes and well into the fourth quarter before the Spurs emptied their bench as the Heat pulled away.

Parker was hurt in the second half of Game 3, and an MRI taken Wednesday revealed a Grade 1 strain. That's the mildest level, but Parker wouldn't commit to playing Thursday night until the morning shootaround.

He insisted "I'll be ready to go" - repeating that, and only that, to every question about his health before the game.

Parker made good on that pledge early. By halftime he was shooting 58 percent and had already outscored his listless performances in Games 2 and 3.

Miami stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had rebounded, too, making this series a thrilling matchup of dueling superstars again. But while James and Wade kept bulldozing the Spurs in the second half, Parker couldn't keep up.

Parker didn't have his supporting cast in the backcourt to bail him out this time, either. Danny Green and Gary Neal, who lit up the Heat in a Game 3 blowout, combined for 23 points - less than half their output the last time out.