Parker leads Spurs past Thunder

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LOS ANGELES, California, February 5 – Tony Parker poured in 42 points and passed out nine assists to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 107-96 home victory over Oklahoma City — the team with the best record in the NBA.

Tim Duncan added a “double-double” with 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Spurs, who improved to 13-1 at home but are now facing a nine-game road trip.

Parker at least ensured they head out buoyed by a victory.

With 4,477 assists he has now surpassed Avery Johnson — current coach of the New Jersey Nets — for the Spurs club record.

Parker wasn’t the only French player on fire on Saturday.

Nicolas Batum returned from a two game injury absence to score a career-high 33 points for the Portland Trail Blazers in a 117-97 victory over Denver.

He connected on nine of his 15 three-point attempts, a club record for three-pointers in a game and the most by any player in the NBA in one game so far this season.

Meanwhile, NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose scored 26 points with 13 assists, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 113-90 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Rose’s performance helped ensure the Bulls celebrated the return of Britain’s Luol Deng with a victory.

Deng, who is expected to lead Britain’s basketball squad at this year’s London Olympics, missed seven games with a torn ligament in his left wrist.

He showed few ill effects upon his return, however, as he played 41 minutes and scored 21 points. That included making his first three three-point attempts.

“I feel great,” said Deng, who also grabbed nine rebounds.

“I can’t say enough about him,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He stays in great shape. He got out there and did everything, played defense, rebounded, made shots, made us function well as a team. It was very encouraging.”

But it was Rose who impressed Bucks coach Scott Skiles. He finished with 26 points and 13 assists.

“He is truly a great player,” Skiles said.

Thibodeau acknowledged that Rose was the key to a game in which the Bulls matched a season high with 67 points in the first half. Their 14 three-pointers were also a season-high.

“Derrick set the tone,” Thibodeau said. “He played with a lot of energy in that first quarter. (The Bucks) had played last night, so we wanted to make sure we did that. Derrick did everything. He made the game simple. He got us easy baskets in transition. Obviously, I was very pleased with that.”

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