DALLAS -- The San Antonio Spurs had to call a timeout just 1:54 into Game 3 of their matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. As the Spurs went to the bench, coach Gregg Popovich lit into guard Tony Parker. In just three plays, the Spurs coach had seen Parker allow Jose Calderon to blow right by him with little resistance as Calderon delivered two easy assists at the basket and one running jumper.
Parker responded by going 6-of-8 from the field for 12 points in the opening quarter en route to a 19-point effort in the loss, but the damage might have already been done.
The Mavericks have insisted on switching on all pick-and-rolls, mainly leaving Parker with Shawn Marion or other bigs guarding him. It represents a mismatch, so Parker has tried to exploit it. While Parker is taking advantage on that end of the floor, Dallas is making him work when San Antonio plays defense.
"We want to make all of their guys work," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the team's practice on Sunday. "We know Parker is a great player. He had a great first half. He rested more in the second half. That may have been why he didn’t have as many points. I don’t know. He’s going to be a big priority for us."
It has been a collective effort by Dallas' backcourt as they've gone up against Parker. In Games 1 and 2, backup guard Devin Harris scored a total of 37 points and shot 60 percent from the field. In Game 3, Monta Ellis dominated as he scored 29 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. After a rough start to the series, Calderon has made 12 of his last 20 shots and scored 28 points over his last two games.
With the Dallas backcourt providing so many issues, is Parker running out of gas?
Parker has scored a total of 42 points with nine assists in the first half of the three games. He has scored just 10 points with six assists in the second half of the three games. The shooting percentages tell another story, as well. In 17.0 minutes per game of first-half action in this series, Parker has shot 58.1 percent from the field. In 14.0 minutes of second-half action, Parker's shooting percentage has dropped to just 38.5 percent from the field.
"He looked pretty tired at the end of Game 3," Harris said. "Obviously, he exerted himself pretty much in the first half. We’re going to try to continue to make him grind for his points as well as guard us on the other end.
"So far, we’ve done a good job of that."
The fatigue factor might have been on display most in the fourth quarter of Game 3. Parker stole the ball from Harris with 10:27 left in the period, creating a breakaway attempt. Dirk Nowitzki was running along Parker's right-hand side. Instead of going for a layup, Parker slowed down, ran along the baseline and ultimately settled for a contested 13-foot jumper.
Shortly after that, Popovich subbed Parker out of the game and he didn't return until the 4:06 mark of the period. Parker said he understood the thought process of sitting during the final period.
"Manu [Ginobili] was rolling, he was playing great and [Popovich] felt leaving me on the bench to have more energy for the last four minutes," Parker said after Game 3. "I trust Pop's judgment. Me, personally, I feel fine."
He says he feels fine, but Parker's potential fatigue and the Mavs' ability to capitalize on it will be something to monitor as the series resumes.