Spurs’ Parker on point with demotion to the bench

As is their tradition, the San Antonio Spurs remain proactive when it comes to letting one of their beloved, accomplished veterans it’s time for their role to evolve.

Tony Parker was the latest to experience it Sunday night as he was told in a pregame meeting with coach Gregg Popovich he “thought it was time” to start someone other than him at point guard.

DeJounte Murray started at point guard against visiting Indiana on Sunday night, a game which the Spurs lost, 94-86, snapping the Spurs’ 14-game home winning streak. In the process, the Pacers became the first Eastern Conference team to sweep a two-game regular-season series against San Antonio in three seasons.

To his credit, Parker didn’t flinch, accepting coming off the bench for only the 14th time in his storied career in 1,165 regular-season games. Counting playoffs, it was the 21st game as a reserve and the first time since the 2010 playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks.

“I was like, ‘Oh, no problem,'” Parker said, reacting to Popovich’s decision. “Just like Manu [Ginobili], just like Pau [Gasol], that day’s going to come. And if Pop sees something that is good for the team, I’ll try to do my best.”

Parker, 35, a six-time All-Star in his 17th season of his NBA career, all with the Spurs, had 12 points, three rebounds, five assists and a steal in 12 minutes off the bench for San Antonio.

Meanwhile, Murray, his replacement in the starting lineup, contributed eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in 28 minutes.

“A little different, so I guess we’re figuring where we need certain things (with Parker) coming off the bench to start the game,” San Antonio guard Danny Green said. “Trying to get a happy medium of getting some fast pace, slower pace, getting it inside, working outside, but turn the ball over a little less, move it a little bit better.”

Parker made it a point to back up his coach.

“I support Pop’s decision,” he said. “And I’ll try to help [Murray] out as best I can and try to be the best I can in that second unit with Manu and Patty [Mills].”

San Antonio (30-18) will host the Cleveland Cavaliers (27-18) on Tuesday night.

When asked if Parker — averaging 8.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 21.7 minutes in 21 games entering Sunday night’s loss — will continue to come off the bench, Popovich responded, “We’ll see.”