ADDED 9:51AM Mar 01, 2011 by Fanshots
Spurs point guard Tony Parker will likely miss two to four weeks with a sore calf muscle, handing the NBA's top team its first significant injury after coasting all season with unusually perfect health.
Parker strained his left calf in Sunday's win over Memphis. He had started every game during a blazing start for the NBA-best Spurs (49-10), who can already match their win total from last season Tuesday when they play the Grizzlies again.
Parker is averaging 17.1 points and 6.6 assists, piloting a refreshened offense that is quicker, higher-scoring and no longer revolving around Tim Duncan.
"When Tony's on the court the whole dynamic of the team changes," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said after Sunday's victory. "He's so good at breaking the first line and finding open teammates or finishing. He gives us another great weapon offensively."
George Hill will likely take Parker's place. He'll get only a couple warm-up games in the starting lineup before the Spurs face LeBron James and Miami for the first time Friday.
The Heat are the first of two big back-to-back games for the Spurs, who also play the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday in their third meeting this season.
Parker was injured when he collided with Grizzlies guard Mike Conley in the second quarter. The 28-year-old Parker did not return to the game.
The Spurs didn't practice Monday. Parker will stay in San Antonio for rehab while the Spurs travel to Memphis and then Cleveland this week, before coming home to play Miami.
Health has been a major factor behind San Antonio's surprise return to championship form. Like Parker, Duncan has started every game, and Ginobili has started all but one.
San Antonio was hardly as lucky the previous two years. Injuries to their Big Three crippled the Spurs in the two seasons after reaching the Western Conference finals in 2008, leading many to write off the four-time champions as too old and fragile.
Indeed, even Ginobili wasn't rewarded with a three-year contract extension last April until the All-Star proved he was still among the league's best guards, and not permanently troubled by a pair of shaky ankles.
Parker's last major injury was a broken hand late last season. Hill took his place in the starting lineup, and when Parker returned for the playoffs, he came off the bench for eight games before reclaiming his starting job.