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Archive for Monday, November 26, 2001

Parker, Tinsley surprising

Rookie guards starting for Spurs, Pacers have done unthinkable this season

November 26, 2001

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One slipped through most of draft's first round because of poor performances in postseason tryout camps and what some perceived as a bad attitude in private workouts with several NBA teams.

The other sneaked into the first round, barely thought to be more than a possible starter sometime down the road.

After the first month of the season, rookies Jamaal Tinsley and Tony Parker have done the unthinkable as the 27th and 28th picks in June's draft: Tinsley and Parker are starting at point guard for their respective teams, the Indiana Pacers and the San Antonio Spurs.

And, in Tinsley's case, starring might be a more appropriate description.

Tinsley, who played at Iowa State, has been on a roll along with the Spurs' Parker, the 19-year-old who grew up in France and played professionally there beginning when he was 15.

"I'll never forget this," Tinsley said after handing out 23 assists two short of the NBA rookie record while scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a 110-103 victory over the Washington Wizards on Thursday night at Conseco Fieldhouse. "I don't know how to say it. I'm happy."

After using Jalen Rose at point guard last season with mixed results, Pacers coach Isiah Thomas didn't flinch at trading for Tinsley, who was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies and then traded to Atlanta as part of a draft-night trade that sent No. 3 overall pick Pau Gasol to the Grizzlies for Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

Still, Thomas didn't expect Tinsley to become a focal point.

"He's been a big surprise," said Thomas. "Where he's surprised us the most is with his defense. He's able to do whatever he needs and we need. It has helped Jalen and Reggie (Miller) tremendously. Jalen can start out playing the small forward, and we don't have to make Reggie at his age (36) take the tough defensive assignment."

Tinsley knew that his stock had plummeted, beginning when Iowa State was bounced from the NCAA tournament in the first round by Hampton. Others were turned off by his background, which included not playing high school basketball in Brooklyn before going to junior college.

Playing for one of the best point guards in NBA history has helped Tinsley's transition.

"I'm going to make mistakes. I'm human," said Tinsley. "I just go out and play hard."

Parker, who was picked by the Spurs, comes with a bit of a pedigree. His father, Sonny, was a Chicago playground legend known as P-Funk who played for six seasons with the Golden State Warriors before carving out a career in Europe.

"Parker is really good," said Thomas. "He's got good speed, great vision and it appears to be the perfect fit for him and the team."

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich moved Parker into the point guard spot to allow Antonio Daniels to move back to his natural shooting guard position behind Steve Smith. The Spurs lost Avery Johnson to free agency and were planning to use Daniels and veteran Terry Porter at the position.

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