|Popovich to sit Spurs star Tony Parker indefinitely to rest bone spur heel|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 29 January 2008 21:35|
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has decided to sit Tony Parker indefinitely, against the point guard's wishes, because of a bone spur in the star's left heel.
Parker did not appear in the Spurs' bench area during their 88-85 loss to Seattle on Tuesday night, San Antonio's season-high third consecutive defeat. The team said Parker was to fly back to San Antonio to get an MRI exam on Wednesday.
The rest of the team was traveling on to Phoenix for a game Thursday, part of a nine-game road trip to both coasts.
``He was told he was going to get better, but he's gotten worse,'' Popovich said. ``I don't know how long it's going to be, but he's going to sit.
``He doesn't like it, but this is the way it's going to be.''
Popovich made his decision about an hour before Tuesday night's game, surprising Parker, who has been playing through pain for six weeks, and Jacques Vaughn. Popovich informed Vaughn that he was starting for the fifth time this season, just as the 11th-year veteran was coming back into the locker room.
Vaughn stood in the doorway of the locker room with a stunned look on his face and finally said, ``Uh ... OK.''
He then played a season-high 37 minutes and scored four points on 2-for-8 shooting. Vaughn had four assists and two turnovers - far from the 19.2 points and 6.1 assists per game Parker is averaging this season.
Popovich said Parker's long-term health is more important than the Spurs' need to reverse their recent, middling ways while on a a nine-game road trip to both coasts - San Antonio's annual trek while the city's rodeo and stock show takes over its home arena. The defending NBA champions are just 11-13 since starting 17-3.
Their frustration after a second consecutive defeat Monday night at Utah led All-Star Tim Duncan to say his team sorely needed to win Tuesday against the woeful SuperSonics, who were buried under a team-record 14-game losing streak.
Parker missed four games from Dec. 13-19 for what the Spurs said were sprained left ankles. But it's the nagging bone spur that was causing the ankle pain, and now his coach has decided only rest will ultimately cure Parker and put the champs into preferred, optimal condition entering the playoffs in April.
San Antonio is 1-4 without Parker starting. The Spurs were 7-6 from Dec. 5 through Jan. 4, when Parker and fellow stars Duncan and Manu Ginobili appeared together for just 2 minutes of one game because of injuries.
``You have to have health to win it,'' Popovich said of the NBA title, which he has won four times in 11 seasons leading San Antonio. ``If you don't have all your horses come playoff time, you'll be planning your vacation (early).''
Vaughn normally would be backed up at point guard now by Brent Barry, but Barry is expected to miss at least three more weeks with a sprained right calf. Sharpshooter Ginobili will likely get the backup point guard duties, as he did some in the preseason, while Parker is out.
Ginobili scored 29 points Tuesday in his second game without the protective device he'd been wearing this month over his sprained left index finger.
``I think Manu's pretty healthy right now,'' Popovich said.