SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Tony Parker scored 21 points, hours after his Hollywood actress wife filed for divorce, to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 103-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
The Spurs won their eighth straight and improved to 9-1, tying a franchise-best start that even Tim Duncan never saw during any of the four championship runs for the Spurs.
But when Parker arrived at the arena, none of that seemed to matter.
Actress Eva Longoria filed court papers in Los Angeles earlier Wednesday to divorce Parker, citing irreconcilable differences between the “Desperate Housewives” star and the point guard. A swarm of media before the game waited for Parker, who called the divorce a private matter.
Derrick Rose scored 33 points for the Bulls, whose win streak ended at four.
Parker was 9 of 14 from the floor and had seven assists, and when the Spurs emptied their bench with 22.2 seconds left, fans treated the three-time All-Star to a standing ovation.
Parker kept his head down and never smiled.
He seldom did from the time he showed up at AT&T Center, where his night began with a brief but uncomfortable session with a swarm of reporters crowding the hallway outside the Spurs’ locker room. It was only hours earlier that Longoria had filed for divorce, ending a celebrity marriage that began with a storybook wedding in Paris in 2007.
“It’s a difficult time right now for me and Eva,” Parker said before the game. “We got a joint statement and everything else is our private life.”
The Spurs trailed 47-37 at halftime but stunned the Bulls with a 37-point third quarter in which San Antonio shot 71 percent. Meanwhile, Chicago missed six of 23 shots and scored just 12 points, a season low for any quarter.
Manu Ginobili scored 20 points and Duncan had 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Spurs, who last opened 9-1 in 1981 during the George Gervin era.
Luol Deng scored 18 points for the Bulls, but on 6 of 17 shooting. Joakim Noah had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Parker and Longoria’s split made for an usually frenzied atmosphere around the Spurs, whose teams under coach Gregg Popovich have largely enjoyed insularity and few off-the-court distractions.
When Parker emerged from the locker room to meet reporters, he succinctly answered three questions before a team official ended the interview.
Asked about speculation that Parker might have been involved with the wife of a former Spurs teammate, Parker replied: “That’s my private life.”
Longoria often attended her husband’s games when not filming – making for a rare courtside celebrity sighting at AT&T Center. When Parker signed a four-year, $50 million extension with the Spurs last month, the 28-year-old spoke as though staying in San Antonio was as important to Longoria as it was to him.
Popovich said during a morning shootaround that his star point guard getting a divorce – during what has so far been one of the best early starts in Parker’s career – wouldn’t be a distraction.
Popovich then addressed the situation one more time before the game.
“This is a difficult situation for everyone, obviously,” Popovich said. “Eva and Tony are two people that we love and care about. We wish them both the best as they move through this.”
Longoria, 35, did not indicate in the court filings when the couple broke up. They have no children together, and Longoria has one previous marriage.
Notes: Duncan has twice as many rings, but Hall of Famer David Robinson can say he reached the Spurs’ all-time scoring mark quicker. Duncan appeared in his 987th career game Wednesday, matching the number Robinson played in his 14-year career, but Duncan remains 12 points shy of The Admiral’s team record of 20,790 career points.
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