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Spurs' Tony Parker out four weeks with Grade 2 ankle sprain

By Royce Young | NBA writer

The race for the Western Conference's top seed might've completely swung with the sprain of a single ankle.

The Spurs announced guard Tony Parker has a Grade 2 left-ankle sprain and is expected to miss four weeks because of it.

The injury occured in the third quarter of the Spurs' win on Friday over the Kings. Parker injured it after completing a transition layup where he landed on Isaiah Thomas' foot.

Parker immediately exited the game and was helped to the locker room. He had an MRI on Saturday that confirmed the injury.

Without Parker, who has emerged as a legit MVP candidate, the Spurs will have to really dig into their bench for help. San Antonio has always boasted one of the deepest rosters in the league and will have to rely on players like Gary Neal, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili and Nando De Colo.

But Parker is certainly what makes the Spur engine run.

“He's been our leader all year long,” Tim Duncan told reporters on Friday, via the San Antonio Express-News. “But we've played with all kinds of different people this year. We're going to rally.”

The Spurs sit first in the West at 46-14, three games clear of the Thunder but just two ahead in the loss column. If Parker misses exactly four weeks, he will miss 13 games, including a potentially major swing game against the Thunder on March 11. The Spurs and Thunder then play a fourth and final time on April 4, which would be right around the earliest date that Parker could return. The teams have so far split two meetings.

This obviously doesn't jeopardize San Antonio's title chances, but it could certainly impact its seed. Parker has clearly emerged as the Spurs' best player, someone they can rely on in to carry them offensively. Knowing the Spurs, they'll trudge on with business as usual, but the West's race for No. 1 is likely going to come down to a thin margin.

And while the Spurs are most interested in having a healthy Parker for the postseason, there's a chance they could slip as far down as third, as the Clippers are just 3 1/2 games back of them currently.

Ginobili has played much better as of late though, notching a career-high 15 assists against the Kings. With Tim Duncan always excellent along with the depth of the roster, the Spurs might be just fine. But there's no denying Parker's importance. He's been a tremendous scorer and distributor all season long.

Parker, 30, is averaging 21.1 points and 7.6 assists in 56 games this season.

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