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Spurs parking Parker on bench to get fit for playoff push

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Feb 14, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Western Conference guard Tony Parker during the 2014 NBA All Star …

(Reuters) - San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker has been shut down indefinitely so he can be fully healthy for the injury-hit team's drive to the NBA playoffs.

Parker has battled a variety of injuries, including a shin contusion, groin strain and lower bask spasms, for more than a month and said on Tuesday he understood coach Gregg Popovich's decision to sit him "for the foreseeable future."

"The main thing with Pop, he doesn't want me to play at 50 percent, 60 percent," Parker, a six-time All-Star who has won three NBA championship rings with San Antonio, told reporters at a shootaround ahead of Tuesday's game against the Clippers.

"He wants me to get all my little stuff healed. Next time I come back on the court he wants me to be 100 percent."

Popovich said he believed Parker was suffering from the wear and tear of his hectic schedule over the past three years playing for the Spurs and the French national team.

"He doesn't have a pulled hamstring, or anything (serious) but he's got a lot of little things," Popovich said.

"Basically, a lot of basketball the last three years: All season long, all summer long. He played for the (French) national team and that's not a week at a time. It's the whole summer, so it's caught up to him."

Parker said he trusts Popovich's judgment and will work with the team's medical and training staff to rehabilitate.

"That's why he's the best coach in the NBA, taking care of me. He knows I've played a lot of basketball. I don't want to admit it caught up to me, but I'm just going to trust his judgment. I have to look at the big picture," said Parker.

The Spurs got some good news on the injury front, with Manu Ginobili returning on a limited basis after missing eight games with a hamstring injury. Tiago Splitter also is coming back after being sidelined three games with a bruised right shin.

Despite the injuries, San Antonio has managed to stay atop the Southwestern Division with a 38-15 record that is second only to Oklahoma City's 43-12 mark in the Western Conference.

Parker said the playoffs were paramount.

"If we want to beat teams like OKC, the Clippers, I have to be 100 percent. When you go against (Clippers') Chris Paul, and (Thunders' Russell) Westbrook and (Warriors') Steph Curry at 50 percent, 60 percent, I'm going to lose that battle. So I have to look at the big picture."

Cory Joseph will start at point guard in Tuesday's game against the Clippers.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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