|11 December 2012|
EUROPEANS IN THE NBA
|Tony Parker was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 2001 and has played for the Texan club ever since |
French superstar Tony Parker has accumulated a wealth of individual accolades in the 12 years of his NBA career but, surprisingly, had never registered a triple double - until now.
The San Antonio Spurs point guard rectified this on Monday night, following an enormous effort to propel his team to a hard-earned 134-126 victory in overtime over the Houston Rockets.
Parker collected 27 points on 9-for-18 shooting from the floor, 12 assists and a season-high 12 rebounds in his approximately 43 minutes on the floor.
There were 15 lead changes in the game and victory could have easily swung Houston's way, were it not for the Spurs' experience and Parker's all-round performance.
"All night long, he kept us in the game; with his play on both ends of the floor, he was magnificent," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich summed up his playmaker's display on Monday.
"I was like 'man, if we lose, nobody is going to care'," a smiling Parker said about his triple-double after it was all over.
"Now that we've won the game it makes it even better, because at the end of the day people only care about wins."
Parker's points and assists tally came as no surprise to anyone, as he has posted such figures time and time again on numerous double-double nights throughout his career, and averages 18.9 points and 7.6 assists so far this season.
But the 1.88m Frenchman had to explain how the most eye-popping part of his stat line in Houston, his 12 rebounds, came about.
Apparently, he decided to step in for big man Tim Duncan, who picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.
"Timmy [Duncan] was in foul trouble so I figured I'd pick up the slack on the boards," Parker said laughing.
"It was just one of those games where I was trying to help out."
The Texas derby had a distinct European flavour on both sides.
Fellow French internationals Boris Diaw and Nando de Colo contributed to the Spurs' win with solid displays.
The big man had eight points, three assists and two rebounds while the rookie featured for nine minutes and finished with five points and one board.
But the performance that was most overshadowed by Parker's impressive accomplishment was that of Turkish international Ömer Asik.
The 26-year-old center was fantastic for Houston in a losing effort.
He scored an NBA career-high 21 points and added 10 rebounds to collect his tenth double-double and confirm his unstoppable rise in this breakout season.
In the end it was not enough to help his team reach the win in the Monday Texas clash but nobody can blame the Turkish big guy.
The Spurs are after all "those guys, those closers that have been in a million of those games," as Asik's coach Kevin McHale put it.