When it became clear early last week that Tony Parker’s sprained left ankle was well again, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich agreed to a plan to bring him back earlier than the original four-week diagnosis. The only condition: Once the All-Star point guard returned, he had to be able to handle a full night’s workload. “I didn’t want to bring him back and piecemeal it,” Popovich said. “So we made him practice all week, and obviously he was ready to go.” Though Parker admits his rhythm isn’t quite back to normal, his minutes are. In two games since returning from a three-week layoff, Parker logged 36:50 in a win over Utah and 34:54 in Sunday’s loss at Houston, surpassing his season average both nights. He averaged 22.5 points in those two games, leading the Spurs in scoring both nights. “I don’t know if he’s 100 percent, but he’s ready to play,” Popovich said. Despite Popovich’s concerns about his conditioning, Parker got stronger as each of the games progressed. In Houston, Parker scored 12 of his 23 points during a 4 1/2-minute stretch of the fourth quarter. Most important, he reported no lingering pain in the ankle. “T.P. is getting his rhythm back,” captain Tim Duncan said. “He’s feeling good. He’s the guy we go to in the fourth quarter. (In Houston), he made some plays to get us back in the game.” Green’s two-fer: On Friday, the same night Popovich earned his 900th career victory against Utah, North Carolina’s Roy Williams earned his 700th college win against Villanova in the NCAA tournament. It was a doubly proud night for Spurs guard Danny Green, who has played for both.
Parker enjoying full load
San Antonio Express-News | Mar 26