Tony Parker puns/jokes are everywhere in the headlines as he apparently overslept and was late to a team meeting. Thus the LA Times and the Orange County Register had almost identical headlines "UCLA Wakes Up in Time to Defeat (Beat) Washington State." From the Times:
Alford pulled Tony Parker from the starting lineup for his tardiness. Thomas Welsh started in his place, and Parker entered more than five minutes into the game.
In the 26 minutes he did play, Parker was a force. He collected 15 points and 10 rebounds, five on the offensive glass. The Bruins outscored Washington State by 20 points in the paint.
Parker and Powell scored two-thirds of UCLA's points in the second half.
Thomas Welsh started both halves and had the defensive moment of his career. But Tony left little doubt who the best Center for UCLA is and how important he is to this team.
The 7-foot center was actually one of the highlights of the second half, in which UCLA took nearly four minutes to score its first field goal. The Loyola High product showed improved defensive positioning, notching three blocks on Washington State big man Jordan Railey in less than two minutes.
Welsh finished with two points, four rebounds and four blocks. Parker had 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, his fifth double-double of the season.
"Never be late to shootaround, especially in a big game like this," he said. "I had to prove to the coaching staff I took them serious. If I had played bad, oh God."
Tony Parker was the focus of the stories and played well enough to make up for being late but really this game was about one person.
Norman Powell scored a career-high 28 points to help UCLA defeat Washington State, 72-67, in a Pac-12 game in Pauley Pavilion on Sunday night.
Powell finished the night as one of four UCLA players scoring double figures. Tony Parker had a double-double with 15 points and a team-leading 10 rebounds. Bryce Alfored scored 13 points and Kevon Looney totaled 12.
UCLA (18-12, 10-7 Pac-12) trailed by as many as six points early in the second half. Washington State was ahead at halftime, 34-32, and pushed its advantage to 38-32 with 18:47 to play in regulation.
The Bruins closed the gap to one point, 41-40, on a layup from Powell with 14:58. UCLA took the lead for good in the second half at the 9:41 mark on a layup from Isaac Hamilton. Powell followed with a free throw shot with 9:23 remaining before finishing with a thunderous slam dunk at the 9:02 mark to put the Bruins ahead, 51-47.
While everyone noticed Powell's career high as he was almost unstoppable going to the hoop, everyone besides the Intern at the LA Times missed that Powell also shut down WSU's star Lacey late in the game when he switched on him man to man.
The senior guard has gradually taken over more and more of the offense, and on Sunday he powered UCLA through the early malaise. He scored 28 points, a career high, and made 10 of 17 shots. He had a one-handed dunk that energized the crowd of 9,082. His defense helped stem the Cougars' momentum late.
Powell was great period. WSU is not. This was not a good game this late in the season. Oregon won a nail biter over Stanford meaning if UCLA beats Just SC Wednesday they wrap up a 4 seed and first round bye in the PAC 12 tournament. Thus it was time for Steve Alford to wax a bit philosophical about the season and team.
"We've played the toughest schedule in the Pac-12, non-league. That's hard, that's hard on a young team. . . . If we win Wednesday that's 11 and 7, that's one game back from where we were last year. So to finish that strong would be terrific for this team."
Last night was a win yes, but is it finishing strong as a team? As far as comparing to last year, well did a team with four pros (actually five since Norman will be playing pro next year) underachieve? Actually when you look at this year you can make a strong argument it underachieved with four bad losses (at Colorado, at Cal, at ASU, and at Oregon State.)
The last word goes to Tony. Tony played hard and atoned for his sins. He gets that it is not just about winning now over bad teams, it is about playing well going into the PAC 12 Tournament.
"It's March," Parker said, "and we have to be on our P's and Q's with everything."