SAN ANTONIO – After a disappointing loss to the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker woke up Friday morning with some good news.
"Feeling better," Parker told Yahoo! Sports in a text message. "No extra pain."
Parker was referring to the right hamstring strain he suffered during the second half of the Spurs' Game 3 victory over the Heat. Parker decided to play in Game 4 and scored 15 points in the first half before being held scoreless the rest of the way in the Spurs' 109-93 loss.
Parker got the OK to play from coach Gregg Popovich on Thursday morning after saying he would test it in the first quarter and would sit if he didn't feel right. Parker made 7 of 12 shots with six assists and three turnovers in 18 first-half minutes.
He took just four shots in the second half, missing all of them, and didn't have a free-throw attempt. The Heat defended him aggressively on pick-and-rolls, and Parker said he felt a little tired.
"It was kind of weak," Parker said of his injury after Game 4. "I didn't know what to expect. So the first three, four minutes I was testing it, and the first half it felt OK. And the second half I think I got fatigued a little bit. But overall I'm just happy I didn't make it worse.
"That was the goal, to not try to get hurt, because Pop was not really happy, meaning I wanted to play and took a little risk. So I'm happy I'm not worse."
Parker had 21 points and eight assists in the Spurs' 92-88 Game 1 victory, but has scored 13, six and 15 in the three games since. With two days off before Sunday's Game 5, he thinks he'll be more physically ready to attack.
"It's going to be huge for me," Parker said. "Obviously, definitely got fatigued in the second half. Those two days I'm going to make sure I do a lot of treatment and get to 100 percent. [Thursday night] I was not 100 percent. By Sunday, that's my goal, to be good to go."
During a Friday teleconference with reporters, Popovich said Parker will be "fine" for Sunday.
With the Finals now tied 2-2 and the Spurs playing their final home game of the series, Game 5 has taken on added urgency for San Antonio. The final two games, if needed, are in Miami where the Heat haven't lost back-to-back games this season.
Popovich doesn't feel the need for a rah-rah speech or to berate his players about their Game 4 loss.
"Timmy Duncan sets the tone, and he just competes," Popovich said. "Whether he does well or whether he does poorly, game in, game out, year in, year out, he competes and people just follow that. Tony Parker is basically the same breed. Manu [Ginobili] is a little bit more emotional, as I am. He's been doing this so long that he understands the wins in some ways are a relief, and the losses are devastating, and you can't let either affect you. You just go on with your business.
"So after a game like [Thursday] night, players, they're smart. They don't need to be told how many turnovers they had or this, that or the other or what we have to do. They feel it, and they'll respond in that regard and they'll play well enough or they won't. But it won't be for lack of effort or anything like that. They'll just stay pretty consistent."
Neither team has won two consecutive games in these Finals. If the Heat do so on Sunday, they'll have two opportunities, if needed, at home to close out the Spurs and win their second straight championship. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra prefers his team not think that far ahead.
"You have to be absolutely disciplined right now more than ever in the process," Spoelstra said during Friday's media teleconference. "You can't talk about a win away from a game to play for [the title]. That will only muddy up your mind. The only thing we can control is how will we approach tomorrow, and what is our mindset. And do everything we possibly can to put us in the best position to compete and win on Sunday.
"But I'll never bring it up, and I don't want our guys talking about it, about the goal, ultimate goal in the next 48 hours. It is about Sunday at first."
NBA Finals coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Dwyane Wade of old shows up to spark Heat past Spurs in Game 4
• Miami's Big Three has best game of playoffs as Heat ties series with Spurs
• Spurs need more from struggling Manu Ginobili
• It turns out that Dwyane Wade's knee is just fine
• Y! Sports Fan Shop: Buy 2013 NBA Finals merchandise