While the whole basketball world was fixated on Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka and his surprising role in the drastically-changed Western Conference finals, the focus of the San Antonio Spurs was in another direction. Tony Parker. Even the longest-tenured Spurs stars can't escape the internal scrutiny that comes with being part of this special program, so Parker's lackluster Game 3 performance was the main topic of discussion among his teammates and coaches. He had nine points (on 4-for-13 shooting), had as many assists as he did turnovers (four) and generally looked rattled by the ultra-athletic Thunder defenders at every turn. Of course Ibaka made a huge difference, once again providing that security blanket down low that allows Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Oklahoma City perimeter players to be aggressive again. And of course they're aware that they have now lost 11 out of the past 13 games against the Thunder in which Ibaka has taken part. But the only way past this unexpected obstacle, they all agree, is with Parker leading the way. "He's got to play better," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said with a stern look when asked about Parker. "He's our best player. He's got to play better."
Tony Parker faces heat from Gregg Popovich, himself
USA Today | May 27