Thibodeau on Bulls injury updates, red-hot Spurs
The Bulls won't be gearing down any as All-Star weekend approaches. They have Tony Parker and the red-hot San Antonio Spurs to thank for that.
The Bulls host the NBA's best record tonight on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live, hosted by Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill.
With just three days remaining until All-Star Weekend in Houston -- where Luol Deng and Joakim Noah were voted in as reserves for the Eastern Conference -- the Bulls will face their stiffest test going up against one of the most talented and deepest teams in the NBA. The Spurs, owners of the NBA's best record at 40-12, enter the United Center tonight having won 12-of-13 and, despite injuries to two key players, remain a stiff test for Chicago.
Western Conference All-Star forward Tim Duncan (knee) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring) are both listed as doubtful, as the former has missed eight of the last 10 games and the latter the last four. For most teams the loss of two of its three best players would be a crippling blow, but not for the Spurs. Led by arguably the league's top coach in Gregg Popovich and a roster full of draft gems and international stars, San Antonio hasn't missed a beat without two of its veteran leaders.
But more than anything or anyone, the presence of the third and most important veteran, point guard Tony Parker, has carried the ageless Spurs through the first half and change of the season. He doesn't have the flair of a LeBron James or Kevin Durant, and won't show up on many SportsCenter Top 10s like Carmelo Anthony or Blake Griffin, but Parker has quietly tossed his name in contention for MVP.
In his 12th NBA season, the 30-year-old Parker's numbers are as good -- if not better -- as those when he was reeling off three NBA championships from 2003 to 2007. His 20.7 points are his best mark since the 2008-'09 season, his 7.7 assists equal his average from last year, then a career-high, and his 53.5 field goal percentage is 16th in the league and easily tops for point guards. In his last three, without Duncan and Ginobili, Parker is averaging 30.3 points and 9.0 assists.
The Bulls won't be coasting into this year's All-Star Weekend, and Parker is the main reason why. See if the Bulls can keep their own streak going -- four straight at home -- when they return to the United Center for the first time since Jan. 28 to take on one of the league's best. You'll only get the home call from Neil and Stacey on Comcast SportsNet, so tune in tonight for all your Bulls' coverage.