Wandering Friday morning, semi-lost in the packed lobby of the sprawling Hilton of the Americas Hotel, Spurs forward Matt Bonner spied a familiar face.

About to encounter the All-Star weekend media hordes for the first time in his career, Bonner got some pre-interview encouragement from Tony Parker, who made his All-Star debut in the Bayou City in 2006.

“He came right over and asked me if everything was OK,” Bonner said. “He told me I’m going to be great (in the 3-point shootout), a true point guard, making sure his guys are OK.”

All season, Parker has been making sure the Spurs are OK on the court. They will begin their stretch run to the playoffs next week with the NBA’s best record because Parker has assumed a leadership role that has grown over the past three seasons to a point coach Gregg Popovich believes Parker simply reads his mind and transfers his thoughts to the court.

Every list of the league’s best point guards begins with the Clippers’ Chris Paul, but the gap between Paul and Parker has narrowed this season.

As much as Popovich admires Paul, who will start for him in today’s 62nd NBA All-Star Game at the Toyota Center, he is perfectly content to have Parker running the show for the Spurs.

“For what we do, he fits to my way of coaching better than anybody else could because he’s gotten to the point where we need him to be a scorer and, at the same time, he’s distributing the ball and leading teammates unbelievably,” Popovich said.

“Maybe it’s because of the length of time we’ve been together, but we kind of read each others’ minds on what’s going on. I’ll trump something he wants or he’ll trump something I want, and then we’ll trust each other to go do it.

“In my way of thinking, he’s right for the job.”