Tony Parker has found balance in his role as a scoring point guard. Two more wins, and the San Antonio Spurs will find themselves playing for another NBA championship.
Parker had 34 points and eight assists, Manu Ginobili added 20 points, and the Spurs stayed perfect in the playoffs with a 120-111 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night.
The Spurs set an NBA record with their 20th consecutive victory bridging the regular season and the playoffs.
They went in sharing the longest such streak with the 2000-01 Lakers, who won 19 straight before losing to Philadelphia in the first game of the Finals.
Those Lakers went on to win the championship, and Parker's performance is yet another reason to think the Spurs will do the same.
Guided by the All-Star point guard, San Antonio shredded Oklahoma City's defense with pinpoint passes for three quarters.
The Spurs were shooting 63 percent from the field and 64 percent from 3-point range at one point in the third quarter, and stretched the lead to 22 points in the second half.
Parker went 16-for-21 from the field, including a 3-pointer. "Tony's been great all year," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's been really focused the entire season."
Parker had his highest scoring average (18.3 points per game) since 2008-09, but he also averaged 7.7 assists in the regular season, a career high. In his 11th season, Parker finally feels comfortable knowing when his demanding coach wants him to pass and when to shoot.
"It's always been a battle my whole career," Parker said, "when you're a scoring point guard and Pop wants you to score, then he wants you to pass, and he wants you to score, and he wants you to pass. You go back and forth.
"It's always been the biggest room for me to improve, to find a happy middle between scoring and passing, and find that good balance," Parker said. "I think, over the years, I got better at it."
The Thunder made a late surge to get within six points, but Parker, Ginobili and Tim Duncan helped San Antonio finish off the Thunder for a 2-0 lead heading into Game 3 on Thursday night in Oklahoma City.
"First, we've got to worry about Game 3," Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said. "Regardless of what's going on with this last game or the next game, we've got to worry about Game 3 and come in with the same mindset and try to get a win."
Kevin Durant had 31 points, Westbrook had 27 points and eight assists, and James Harden rebounded from a rough Game 1 to score 30 for the Thunder, who have lost two straight for the first time since early April. Oklahoma City dropped to 15-4 in games after losses this season.