Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

Parker willing to risk his health

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Spurs guard Tony Parker said Saturday that the strained right hamstring that wore him down last week could tear "any time now" heading into tonight's Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Heat.

But he's giving no thought to letting the injury properly heal.

"If it was the regular season, I would be resting like 10 days," Parker said. "But now it's the NBA Finals. If it gets a tear, it's life."

It would also deal a major blow to San Antonio's chances of winning the championship.

Yet despite his blunt assessment, the All-Star told reporters he is getting stronger on the eve of the Spurs' final home game. He said he is confident, staying disciplined with treatment and still aspiring to be "close to 100 percent" by tipoff.

That's exactly how the 31-year-old point guard looked to start Game 4 Thursday night, two days after straining the hamstring in a blowout win. But Parker faded badly after a sizzling start, going scoreless in the second half while the Heat pulled away and tied the series at two, reclaiming homecourt advantage.

Parker acknowledged feeling fatigued as Game 4 dragged on. His scoring average in the Finals has dipped to 13.8 points after arguably the best season of his 12-year career.

Coach Gregg Popovich downplayed the severity of Parker's injury and the struggles of another of his Big Three, guard Manu Ginobili, who is shooting a career-worst 38 percent in the playoffs but whose need to pick up the slack heightens when Parker is ailing.

"They're fine," Popovich said.

Popovich's concern instead: turnovers. Especially now that the Spurs need another win in Miami, and maybe two, in order to claim a fifth championship.

They won Game 1 in Miami behind an exceptionally disciplined game by NBA standards, tying a Finals record low with four turnovers. Since then, the Spurs have 49 turnovers, including 36 in two losses.

Sloppy play is one culprit. But so is the sheer athleticism and talent of the Heat, which has scored 42 off turnovers in its two wins. Making matters worse for the Spurs in Game 4 was the resurgence of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who combined to score 85 of Miami's 109 Thursday night.

San Antonio has survived careless ball protection this season, going 25-13 when committing 16 or more turnovers. But against Miami, the margin for error shrinks.

"You got to be close to perfect to beat them," Ginobili said. "And we were pretty far from that (in Game 4). If they're having an okay game, we can make a few mistakes here and there and we can mask it. But when they're playing like that, we just can't make mistakes."

AROUND THE LEAGUE: The Clippers reportedly rejected a trade that would've brought Boston coach Doc Rivers and forward-center Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles for center DeAndre Jordan and two first-round picks, the Los Angeles Times reported. As a result, the Clippers are moving forward and are prepared to offer their vacant coaching position to either Brian Shaw or Lionel Hollins. … The Kings hired Nuggets executive Pete D'Alessandro as general manager. … Nuggets guard Andre Iguodala is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent, espn.com reported. … Darvin Ham, a former Hawks player who spent the past two seasons on the Lakers' staff, has been named an Atlanta assistant.

Finals

Spurs 2, Heat 2

TV: Ch. 28

Game 1: Spurs 92, Heat 88

Game 2: Heat 103, Spurs 84

Game 3: Spurs 113, Heat 77

Game 4: Heat 109, Spurs 93

Tonight: at San Antonio, 8

Tuesday: at Miami, 9

June 20: at Miami, 9*

* If necessary

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