|Raptors G Anthony Parker getting Nets attention|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 25 April 2007 11:20|
Anthony Parker is proving to be a very capable second option for the Toronto Raptors - on both ends of the court.
``I think he's one of the most unheralded players in the game,'' Nets coach Lawrence Frank said after the Raptors posted an 89-83 win over the Nets on Tuesday night to even their series 1-1.
While Bosh had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Parker was as good as the All-Star forward. He scored 26 points, added eight rebounds and four steals and took over the defensive assignment from Joey Graham on Carter, limiting the Nets' leading scorer this season to 19 points on 8-of-24 shooting.
Not bad for a guy who spent five years playing in Israel before returning to the NBA this season.
``He's 31. He's tasted the NBA. He's got confidence,'' said Frank, who gave his team off Wednesday with Game 3 scheduled for Friday. ``He's on a team that fits his abilities and, again, he knows who he is and I think, as an older guy, he understands what he can do and he sticks to his strengths.''
Parker never got that chance his first time around in the NBA. The brother of Tennessee women's star Candace Parker was drafted by the Nets in 1997 and then dealt the same night to Philadelphia in a multiplayer move that sent Keith Van Horn to New Jersey.
Parker played in 55 games in his first three seasons with the 76ers and then Orlando before deciding to play overseas. He signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he won five Israeli Premier championships, five Israeli Cups and three Euroleague titles.
``As a basketball player it gave me an opportunity to do the things that I knew I could do and get better at the things I wasn't so strong at,'' Parker said. ``My first time around I was labeled as more of a shooter. Going overseas gave me an opportunity to make plays and be a playmaker in a sense. You learn little crafty things that you pick up as a basketball player.''
That was evident in Game 2. At the end of the first quarter, the Nets committed a turnover and Parker dribbled up the right wing quickly, took a look at the clock and nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. It was a veteran play.
So was his play late in the fourth quarter after T.J. Ford hit a 3-pointer to put Toronto ahead 79-78. New Jersey went to Carter, and Parker picked his pocket on a crossover dribble, setting up two free throws. He made one.
``He had to take a long road to get back into the NBA,'' Ford said of Parker. ``He had to become a superstar overseas to get into the NBA. A lot of people forgot about him, but he's been making a name for himself and definitely been helping this ballclub. He's definitely taken his game to the next level.''
Having Parker step up takes some pressure off Bosh, who has averaged 23.5 points against the Nets. Parker is averaging 21 and the diminutive Ford 17 points in the best-of-seven series. The only other Raptor averaging double figures (10.5) is backup point guard Jose Calderon.
Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said having options besides Bosh is important.
``T.J. has proven we can go to him late in the game,'' Mitchell said. ``Anthony, we can go to him. You just can't play Chris now. We have some options. Now teams have to decide whether they're going to help on Chris and leave Anthony open.''
Parker proved in Game 2 that leaving him open wasn't the thing to do.
``He's been doing the same things he's done all year,'' Bosh said. ``He's made a lot of tough shots, he makes those 3-point shots and he's spreads the defense out. When he's offensively aggressive, it really helps us out.''
The Raptors practiced in Toronto without Parker and Bosh on Wednesday. Bosh was given off because of a cold, while Parker rested a sore ankle that has bothered him all season.