First, he hoped it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Second, the team had to maintain its focus, even though it didn’t know how bad the damage was to the star player.
As it turned out, Duncan’s injury doesn’t appear to be season-ending and Parker and the Spurs kept their mind on the game, coasting to a 100-79 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.
“It looked bad at first,” said Parker, who scored 27 points and dished out eight assists. “There were still like eight minutes left in the second quarter, so we just had to keep playing, keep playing and then whatever happens, happens.”
Duncan bruised his right knee and sprained his right ankle in the first half and did not return to the game. The team said all of Duncan’s ligaments appeared stable but that he would undergo an MRI exam on Monday.
“It’s tough to see somebody go down like that,” Francisco Elson said. “He’s very important to us. It was kind of a scare. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll find out more.”
The Spurs said Duncan will miss some playing time, though they weren’t sure how much.
Brent Barry added 17 points for the Spurs in their third straight victory.
Martell Webster and reserve Travis Outlaw had 17 points each for the Trail Blazers, who have lost four in a row and nine of their last 10. Outlaw also grabbed 11 rebounds. Webster was the only starter to score in double figures; the other four combined for 13 points.
“This is the lowest point. This is definitely the lowest point,” said Brandon Roy, who scored four points on 1-of-9 shooting.
With 7:40 left in the first half, Duncan got caught up with Portland’s James Jones and fell to the floor clutching his knee near the Spurs’ basket. Duncan left the court helped by teammates Elson and Robert Horry.
“I didn’t get tangled. I was just standing up,” Jones said. “He slipped. I hope he’s all right, that’s all I can say.”
Duncan had been struggling with his shot when the incident happened. He finished with two points and was 1-of-7 from the field.
The Spurs led for good after one of Parker’s signature layups broke a 15-all tie with 2:26 left in the first quarter, and were up by as many as many as 25.
Jones scored 10 points for Portland.
After Duncan exited with San Antonio up 34-28, the Spurs built their lead with the help of Parker, who hit a spinning layup that helped to ease the palpable tension in the arena.
Roy said Duncan’s absence could have been a turning point for Portland, but that they didn’t take advantage.
“They (the Spurs) turned it up,” Roy said. “They got better. Tim went down and we stayed right where we were.”
Parker scored eight points in a 15-6 Spurs run that gave them a 15-point lead with 1:02 left in the half. The Spurs were up 51-38 at the break.
“When he goes down the whole game changes and you have to make that adjustment to what they will do to attack you,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “Basically, Tony Parker and Ginobili took over that game.”
The Spurs were up by 20 at the end of three quarters as Parker continued his rampage, scoring nine points in the period. Meanwhile, Portland was still struggling in the face of San Antonio’s surge and its field-goal percentage fell below 40 percent.
The Trail Blazers hit just six of 20 shots in the third quarter.
After Duncan’s fall in the second quarter, Spurs G Michael Finley got into a small shoving match with some Portland players and was called for a technical foul. … In the first half only one of Portland’s starters, Webster, had made a field goal. He was 3-of-4 while the other four were a combined 0-of-14. … The Spurs beat Portland in the teams’ season opener in what was a much closer game, with San Antonio winning 106-97. … The crowd went wild when Horry made his first appearance of the season about halfway through the fourth quarter. Horry was inactive for the first 16 games of the season and was active but didn’t play Friday against Minnesota. He had two blocks Sunday.