SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tony Parker was an emotional wreck before his first game of the season.
It was the point guard’s 1,144th career game, and it wasn’t clear he’d get to play it after a crushing injury in last year’s playoffs.
An overwhelmed Parker quickly settled into his familiar rhythm, though, and so did the San Antonio Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a season-high 33 points and 10 rebounds and the Spurs celebrated Parker’s return by beating the Dallas Mavericks 115-108 on Monday night.
“A little bit like my first game when I was rookie,” Parker said, adding that he almost shed some tears. “But when I saw the crowd getting excited when I got the ball just to bring it up, I got excited. It got me right away, (to be) motivated and be aggressive.”
Parker had six points and four assists in 14 minutes in his first appearance since tearing his right quadriceps tendon May 3 against Houston in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.
The injury required surgery and led some to speculate Parker could miss significant time, if he came back at all. Instead, the 35-year-old returned quicker than expected to what he calls the “game I love.”
“Our guys are just happy for him,” Spurs guard Danny Green said. “To see him go through that process, the injury first, then taking the process of taking six to seven months being out not being able to play. What he’s been to this organization and what he’s meant to us and this organization. For him to bounce back and come in and play pretty quality minutes and do it at an efficient rate? I’m just happy for him.”
Parker moved confidently, driving to the basket and making hard cuts to get away from defenders while primarily playing in the first half. He made his first two shots on hard drives to the basket.
“It’s funny because I was talking with Pop (San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich) before the game asking him ‘What do you want me to do?'” Parker said. “He was like, just be aggressive, just be yourself, just penetrate and see what happens. So, I just went to the paint, that’s what I do best.”
Popovich watched much of Parker’s return on television after being ejected with 7:25 remaining in the first half. Spurs assistant Ettore Messina assumed coaching duties.
After falling behind by 13 points in the first half, the Spurs rallied behind their defense following Popovich’s ejection.
Gasol added a season-high 25 points for the Spurs. Anderson had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five rebounds.
Dennis Smith Jr. and Wesley Matthews each had 19 points to lead the Mavericks, who had won two straight.
Mavericks: Dallas has made at least 10 3-pointers in 16 of 21 games this season, including 14 of 32 against San Antonio. … Dallas will complete its four-game series against San Antonio before Christmas, with the teams scheduled to play Nov. 27, Dec. 12 and Dec. 16. … The Mavericks have won consecutive games only once this season.
Spurs: Parker made his 1,131st career start, the most among active point guards. Houston’s Chris Paul is second with 839. … Parker said he expects Kawhi Leonard to return in “two to three weeks” from a right quadriceps injury that has kept him out all season. … Aldridge has 20 points and 10 rebounds in seven games this season, the most in the team’s first 20 contests since Tim Duncan had eight in 2009. … San Antonio is 10-0 when scoring at least 100 points.
Mavericks: Host Brooklyn on Wednesday night attempting to extend a four-game winning streak against the Nets.
Spurs: Host Memphis on Wednesday night in the Grizzlies’ first game since firing coach David Fizdale.
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