Tony Parker was happy about getting his first career triple-double on Monday night.
When it became clear that the performance was going to help the San Antonio Spurs win, the 12-year veteran could enjoy it so much more.
Gary Neal scored a career-best 29 points and Parker had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Spurs over the Houston Rockets, 134-126, in overtime.
"I was like, 'Man, if we lose, nobody is going to care'," Parker said with a laugh about his triple-double. "Now that we won the game it makes it even better, because at the end of the day people only care about wins."
Jeremy Lin had his best game since joining the Rockets, scoring a career high-tying 38 points with leading scorer James Harden sidelined by a sprained right ankle. It was the second time he had scored more than 20 points since coming to Houston.
Parker's outing complemented Neal's 7-of-10 performance from 3-point range.
Parker's teammates had fun with him after the game, with a couple of them bellowing "Mr Triple-double" as he entered the locker room, eliciting a sheepish grin and a shake of the head from him.
"All night long, he kept us in the game," Spurs coach Gregg Poppovich said of Parker. "With his play on both ends of the floor, he was magnificent."
Neal's last 3-pointer followed by a three-point play by Manu Ginobili put the Spurs ahead 130-122 with two minutes left in overtime, and they held on for the win. It was San Antonio's fifth straight victory overall and second over Houston in three days after a 114-92 triumph on Friday.
"Gary was unbelievable," Parker said. "He made some big shots for us. He was the one who kept us in the game with timely 3s, very timely 3s in the fourth quarter and in overtime."
The Rockets provided a stronger challenge in this one after San Antonio never trailed in Friday's win. But Houston's inexperience showed in overtime as the Rockets had three turnovers to help the Spurs build the lead.
Houston fell to 0-2 since coach Kevin McHale returned to the bench on Saturday after taking a leave of absence on Nov 10 to be with his family as his daughter's health worsened. Alexandra "Sasha" McHale died on Nov 24 of complications from Lupus. She was 23.
"Those guys, those closers have been in a million of those games," McHale said of the Spurs.
(China Daily 12/12/2012 page23)