Parker returns to Spurs' lineup

February, 5, 2010
02/05/10
10:02
AM ET

Tony Parker returned from an ankle injury Thursday, scoring 18 points in 30 minutes against the Portland Trail Blazers and otherwise looking like the Parker we missed. Despite the solid performance, however, it is Parker's performance in the long term, with his nagging injury of plantar fasciitis in the rearview mirror, that will tell the true story.

Despite the 18-point, six-assist performance, he wasn't quite a game-breaker; he needed 16 shots to net 18 points, getting to the line just twice. And although the San Antonio Spurs got solid games from each of their big three, along with 16 points from George Hill, they still fell to a Brandon Roy-less Trail Blazers club.

For the night, however, it was a win, with Parker returning with a solid effort after spraining his ankle just more than a week ago. The hope is the upcoming All-Star break can provide enough rest for Parker's plantar fasciitis to truly heal, and we get the point guard we've become accustomed to watching in the upcoming weeks.

It is important to note, however, that Hill did receive the start and a whopping 37 minutes in the contest, implying that his performance as a fill-in for Parker the past week (19.3 points on 50 percent shooting in three games) was not a total fluke. The Spurs, desperate for any sort of consistent scoring outside of their big three, may find that improvement was in their backcourt all along. Hill is now averaging 16.5 points in 13 starts at shooting guard, so those in deep leagues should hold on tightly, as they may have discovered a diamond in the rough.

Looking Back

THURSDAY, FEB. 4
HIGHLIGHTS
LaMarcus Aldridge, Trail Blazers: 28 points (12-22 FG), 13 rebounds, 3 assists against the Spurs.
Michael Beasley, Heat: 21 points (9-14 FG), 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks versus the Cavaliers.
Manu Ginobili, Spurs: 21 points, 5 assists, 2 3-pointers against the Trail Blazers.
LOWLIGHTS
Rafer Alston, Heat: 2 points (1-5 FG), 4 assists in 14 minutes against the Cavaliers.
Jerryd Bayless, Trail Blazers: 0 points (0-3 FG), 1 assist in 12 minutes versus the Spurs.
Richard Jefferson, Spurs: 8 points (3-8 FG), 4 rebounds against the Trail Blazers.
While 20-point performances may not be in the cards for Martell Webster upon Brandon Roy's return, one thing we can be pretty sure is here to stay is his sharpshooting from long range. Webster scored 21 points on just nine shots versus the Spurs, thanks primarily to going 5-for-5 beyond the arc. Webster has netted at least two 3-pointers in 15 of his past 18 games, a trend that should keep his starting job safe from teammate Nicolas Batum. The return of Roy only figures to lead to more open looks, so while the volume may not be there for Webster, the high-quality looks will continue to be, making him a sneaky option as a one-trick pony. … Andre Miller is averaging just 9.3 points in three games since his career-high outburst of 52 points, but after dishing out 10 assists Thursday, he's reached double-digit dimes in two of those three games. The combination of solid play from Miller and poor performances from the likes of Steve Blake and Jerryd Bayless make it clear that Miller's value should remain stable, and proof that patience is a virtue when it comes to underachieving veterans. … It took a few games, but Michael Beasley came through with his first strong performance since suffering a hyperextended knee against the Raptors last week. Slowly but surely, Beasley is improving month by month, scoring 20-plus points three times in November, five times in December and seven times in January. He benefited from a loosely contested game in the second half, and you would like to see him get to the line more than twice, but there are indications he could be on track for a big second half, health permitting.

Looking Ahead

A sign of life from Devin Harris: With averages of 19.5 points, 11.0 assists and 8.5 free throw attempts his past two games, Harris looks like he might be able to salvage his season, after all. But no one is better at staying with quick point guards than Rajon Rondo, so a correction may be in order Friday. … With the news that Joakim Noah will be shut down until the All-Star break, it would be an upset not to see a big game from the likes of Tyrus Thomas. Make sure he's in your lineup this weekend. … Don't look now, but Spencer Hawes has scored 41 points in his past two games. His size will be needed against the beefy front line of the Lakers on Friday, a game which will be a good test of just how real his recent performance is. … Keep a close eye on Larry Hughes on Saturday. Word is he's back in the Knicks' rotation at point guard. He flirted with value earlier in the season, and if you can stomach his field goal percentage, he could be a fine source of steals, assists and 3-pointers in the short term.

Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.

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