SAN ANTONIO – Tony Parker had 37 points and 12 assists with All-Star teammate Tim Duncan sitting out with a sore right knee, and the short-handed San Antonio Spurs held the Dallas Mavericks to their worst offensive showing this season in a 93-76 victory on Tuesday night.
San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker (L) drives past Dallas Mavericks Josh Howard during the first half of their NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Texas, February 24, 2009. [Agencies]
Parker scored 26 points in the first half and shouldered the load without Duncan and Manu Ginobili, who hasn't played since the All-Star break because of a stress reaction in his right ankle.
Michael Finley scored 16 against his former team, and Josh Howard led the flat-looking Mavericks with 19 points.
The severity of Duncan's injury wasn't immediately known, nor was his likelihood for Wednesday's game against Portland. Duncan walked around the locker room before the game but was scratched only a half-hour before tip-off.
He was not on the bench for the game.
It was the first time this season San Antonio's leading scorer sat out with an injury, and left the Spurs to manage again without two of their big three. The Spurs survived a rocky first few weeks without Parker and Ginobili, who at the time was still recovering from surgery on his other ankle.
Ginobili, who is expected to miss another few weeks, cheerleaded in street clothes as the Spurs won their third straight.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 points for the Mavericks, who are also still without one of their biggest offensive weapons, Jason Terry. The standout sixth man missed his sixth game with a break in his non-shooting hand.
Minus Duncan, Ginobili and Terry, the latest meeting in the Interstate 35 rivalry was a far cry from the 133-126 double-overtime thriller that the Spurs wrested in Dallas in December.
Tuesday was more of a jog than a sprint. The Mavericks shot just 34 percent from the floor and San Antonio improved to 18-2 when holding opponents below 89 points.
Matt Bonner added 11 for San Antonio and Kurt Thomas had 10.
Popovich did not mention Duncan's health in a pregame chat with reporters. But when the subject of the recent rash of notable injuries came up - Ginobili, Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire, Boston's Kevin Garnett - Popovich plainly stated that "everyone knows you got to have your horses to win it all."
Perhaps, but apparently not to eek out a February victory.
No Duncan and no Ginobili meant an obvious dependence on Parker from the start, but the Mavs still couldn't shut down what they knew was coming.
Parker set up Thomas for San Antonio's first bucket, then scored 16 straight San Antonio points on a mixture of long jumpers, twisting layups and runners. The one-man run only stopped when Parker zipped a no-look pass to Fabricio Oberto for an easy basket.
By the time Parker sat for his first breather with 2:26 left in the first quarter, the speedy Frenchman had a hand in all but two of San Antonio's 26 points.
Jose Barea had 16 points and reserve James Singleton had 14 for Dallas.