Parker was brilliant Wednesday night with 42 points and 10 assists, helping the Spurs solve their recent struggles closing out games in a 102-92 victory over the Hawks. Parker's performance was so good, it prompted Duncan to say he deserves to at least be in the top five on voters' MVP ballots in a few weeks.
"I think absolutely," said Duncan, a two-time MVP. "Of course I'm biased, obviously. But with the position that we're in -- second or seventh in the West, however many games it can switch -- we're right in the mix with that. The amount of injuries we've been dealing with all year ... he's keeping this team consistent. He's been the consistent one all year long. Absolutely, he should be at least given an opportunity to be one of those top five."
It was the second-highest scoring game of Parker's career, after the 55 points against Minnesota in double overtime back in November. (For the record, he had 42 in regulation in that game.)
When Parker had 55 points and 10 assists in a 129-125 victory over the Timberwolves on Nov. 5, he stopped San Antonio from suffering its first 0-4 start since 1973. I'm detecting a theme. When the Spurs are in trouble, Parker comes to the rescue.
"He was unstoppable," said Ginobili, who had only two points on 1-for-7 shooting in 14:02, his first appearance after missing 19 games with a stress reaction in his right ankle. "But at the same time, he was really good playing defense. And there was a stretch where he found Roger (Mason), (Michael Finley), Matt (Bonner) on the roll, and they didn’t know what to do. He was the reason that we won this game."
Parker is the reason the Spurs win a lot of games. But they know they're not going anywhere if they don't get Ginobili and Duncan 100 percent -- or close to it -- before the playoffs begin.
"We always have a good shot," Ginobili said. "The thing is, if we're not healthy, we won't."