Gregg Popovich and Tony Parker.

Gregg Popovich praises Tony Parker's influence in game three

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The San Antonio Spurs took a crucial 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semi-finals playoff series with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday night.

Having split the two games at the AT&T Center, it was imperative the Spurs returned to Texas having won at least one outing on the road.

After the Thunder said one man - LaMarcus Aldridge - could not win the series on his own, two important players stepped up for San Antonio in the form of Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker.

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Leonard produced another performance to solidify his position as a true superstar while Parker can add game three to his long list of vital performances.

Following the encounter, head coach Gregg Popovich praised the influence of the Frenchman: "I thought Tony, he started out a little bit rough but he kept his poise, kept his focus and had a great second half.

"He really ran the show, scored here and there when he needed to, did a wonderful job."

Parker ended the night with 19 points on 50 percent shooting as he went 7-of-14 from the field and 3-of-6 from behind the arc. He also provided five assists and eight rebounds.

While his influence on the stats sheet this season has diminished somewhat as the younger duo of Leonard and Aldridge take centre stage in San Antonio, there is no doubting Parker is a huge factor for the organisation. The same can be said about legendary duo Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

Having joined the Spurs in 2001, the European point guard has enjoyed a sustained period of success under Pop. If he is to add a fifth championship ring to his collection, the 33-year-old must continue to provide performances of a similar standard.

San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division
Western Conference
Kawhi Leonard
Tony Parker

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