SAN ANTONIO (AP) — In the midst of a resounding and redemptive victory, the Spurs’ celebration came to an abrupt stop when Tony Parker was carried off the court with what appeared to be a serious left leg injury.
Kawhi Leonard had 34 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and San Antonio battled through the loss of Parker to beat the Houston Rockets 121-96 on Wednesday night and even the Western Conference semifinals at one game apiece.
Parker departed with 8:43 remaining. Spurs officials said the 16-year veteran will undergo an MRI on Thursday morning and will update his status after, but San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said following the game that “it’s not good.”
Teammate Manu Ginobili said Parker was still hurting and unable to put any weight on his left leg after the game.
“It’s hard to see him limping and hurting now,” Ginobili said. “You kind of know that we’re not going to see him anytime soon. So, that’s a tough blow. We’ll see, we don’t know.”
Parker’s left leg appeared to go limp as he rose to attempt a short jumper in the paint over Houston’s Patrick Beverley with 8:52 remaining. Parker grabbed his left knee immediately upon landing and remained on the court for a few minutes. The 34-year-old attempted to limp off the court, but had to be carried off by teammates. Stadium officials had a wheelchair waiting for Parker after he entered the tunnel that leads to the locker room.
Parker finished with 18 points in 26 minutes.
The injury dampened a complete turnaround for the Spurs, who responded to a 126-99 defeat Monday with a similar domination in Game 2.
“I think we were able to get a feel for them in the first game,” Leonard said. “Just trying to contest all shots, limit them to one possession, don’t let them rebound the basketball on the offensive end and just get them off the 3-point line.”
The Spurs limited James Harden to 13 points on 3-for-17 shooting.
“I just missed shots,” Harden said. “I missed shots. I didn’t convert my layups. We knew they were going to come out with some aggressiveness in Game 2.”
The Rockets shot 11 for 34 on 3-pointers after going 22 for 50 in Game 1.
“They came out with a lot of energy,” said Beverley, who had 12 points. “They came out with a lot more fight.”
Popovich started Pau Gasol in place of David Lee to give the Spurs another outside shooter in the starting lineup and it paid off early. San Antonio shot 62 percent in the opening quarter and finished shooting 54 percent.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points after being limited to four in the opener, and Danny Green added 12.
“We played a lot smarter than we did in Game 1,” Green said. “We played at our pace, not theirs. Passed the ball, found each other, moved a lot better with more of an old Spurs basketball.”