Hornets-Spurs: Friday News Wrap

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Published: May 2, 2008

Here was me thinking today would be the calm before the storm that is tomorrow's Game 1 of Hornets vs. Spurs. But no. Millions of stuffs be on the interwebs. Here's what I found…

Tony Parker sat out the physical drills at Spurs' practice yesterday. Seems he's a little banged up after the first round…

  • Though he tweaked the sprained ankle that put him on the injured list for nearly three weeks in early February, Parker said the ankle wasn’t the reason he sat Thursday.

    "I've got a sore everything," he said. "It was just to try to make sure I take care of everything and be ready by Saturday night."

Great Q&A with Byron Scott over at the Big Easy Buzz Blog. You should go read the whole thing really. Here's just a snippet…

  • Q: What will be the focus of the team's defensive efforts against Tony Parker?

    Scott: One thing about Tony Parker is he's made a living in his career getting to the basket. He's the best point guard in the league as far as scoring points in the paint. Our main focus is to try to keep him out of there as much as possible. That's why we put so much emphasis on transition defense, because once he gets the ball, he's a one-man fast break. We have to do a good job of making sure he shoots contested jump shots all night long.

In the San Antonio Express-News, Mike Monroe writes about Michael Finley's big role in the Suns series

  • Finley's 3-pointer at the end of the fourth quarter sent Game 1 of the first-round series into overtime and the Spurs on to victory. He followed that with an eight-point second quarter that blunted the Suns' early momentum in Game 2.

    It was hardly a surprise when the Suns chose to deny Finley open looks in the games that followed, with instructions to ace defender Raja Bell to stick tight to him, no matter what. What followed was a bonanza for Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, and Finley just smiled at the notion he could have impacted the series in a meaningful way averaging just six shots a game.

Another of the Spurs' old-timers, 37-year-old Robert Horry, is apparently feeling good ahead of Game 1 against the Hornets…

  • Horry's first field goal of these playoffs — in a Game 4 loss to Phoenix in the first round — didn't mean quite as much as other big shots fired in a career full of them. And yet, in the context of a farewell season that hasn't gone to plan, it meant everything.

    "That game helped me a lot, because I got to play 20 minutes," said Horry, who missed the final 13 games of the regular season with a bruised knee. "I shook off a lot of rust. I'm feeling good."

In the Times-Picayune, Peter Finney notes the similarities between Tony Parker and Chris Paul. There's also this quote from CP in there…

  • "They know us as well as we know them," he said. "They're a team that knows how to win. They've proved it. We're playing the best. As for myself, you're always looking to get better. I'm trying to become more efficient. I think I've become a better shooter than when I came into the league. Now I feel I'm shooting with more confidence. I've got the feeling I can make it every time I shoot it."

Also from the T-P, Dan McCarney has quotes galore from the Spurs about Chris Paul

  • "Everything he does is difficult to handle," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said.

    Parker calls his counterpart "the head of the snake."

    Teammate Robert Horry goes a step further, saying he's never played with or against a point guard better than Paul.

    "He's playing like a beast right now," said Horry, now in his 16th season. "He's doing exactly what (Steve) Nash did when he won his MVPs, except he's playing defense."

  • "Against Dallas he didn't have to play much defense, so he was basically resting," said Parker, who averaged 19.5 points and 5.5 assists as the Hornets and Spurs split the season series 2-2. "He saved all his energy for offense, and he played unbelievable. My job is to try to get inside and make him work hard so he doesn't have the energy to make all those great passes."

Nice article from Mike Finger in the Express-News, on the similarities between the Hornets and Spurs. Finger didn't believe it at first…

  • If a visitor who didn't know any better had wandered into the Alario Center on Thursday afternoon — if he watched the New Orleans Hornets spend the better part of a half-hour attempting bank shots off a wall 30-feet high, then erupt in a spontaneous team-wide game of dodgeball that left everyone in the gym ducking for cover — he'd come to a natural conclusion:

    Melvin Ely is crazy.

    "This team here," Ely said, "is another version of the Spurs, in every sense."

By the way, it's Melvin's 30th birthday today. I bought him a tie rack.

Warren Blatt picks the Spurs to win the series in six, citing that experience thing as the big key…

  • This will be an entertaining and exciting series. Parker and Paul will battle each other every possession, while Duncan will do whatever Popovich needs him to do to give the Spurs an edge. Experience will count in this one.

Les East focuses his Advocate article on David West today…

  • There's no postseason award on the horizon for David West, which is just fine with the Hornets power forward, who doesn't seem particularly interested in getting attention.

    "It's natural when you have a player like (Paul) beside you, but I've never been the type of guy that's been concerned about those types of things," West said. "I just try to play and be as effective as possible."

Great feature on Jannero Pargo from Nakia Hogan in today's Times-Picayune… 

  • "I love my role," he said. "I just come out there and try to provide energy and do whatever it takes just to help my team win. I just try to be aggressive on both ends of the court.

    "I did feel a lot of pressure (after the trade). But with pressure comes opportunity. Now I take it upon myself to come out and be more aggressive, be more assertive for our bench, because that's the role that Bobby fulfilled… But Bobby is gone now, so it's on me and Bonzi mostly just to come out and provide something for our team and give us a lift."

Mike Dodd of USA Today writes about the Hornets remarkable turnaround in attendance and fan support this season…

  • The Hornets, second-to-last in the league in attendance at the All-Star break (12,645), have sold out 14 of their last 19 home games (including playoffs), averaging 16,783. Club officials say they've sold 2,000 new season tickets for next year in a promotion tied to playoff tickets.

    "We've seen a real turnaround post-All-Star Game," NBA Commissioner David Stern said this week. "That doesn't mean we don't have our moments of concern, but those are largely in the past. We think it's over the hump."

WWL had a news story on this yesterday. You can watch it online here (thanks to Hornets Asylum for the link). Here's some encouraging numbers from that video…

  • The Hornets have sold more than 2,300 new season tickets in the past month.
  • 90% of current season ticket holders have renewed.
  • We're 1,800 season tickets away from selling out the lower bowl.

A nice Hornets-Spurs series preview from 48 Minutes of Hell. The writer is a Spurs fan, so he's obviously leaning towards them to take the series, but he gives good reasons for his pick. Among them…

  • No NBA team flips the switch come the playoffs like the Spurs. We went 3-1 against the Suns during the regular season, and I believe the outcome of that first round match-up is still fresh in your minds. The only one who really goes all out for 82 in my opinion is Manu. But the difference in the focus and intensity these guys show in the regular season and the playoffs is shocking.

I forgot to mention this yesterday: check out the poll on the Spurs section of mysanantonio.com. You have to figure most of the 22,000 voters (so far) are from Texas, yet 54.1% of them were picking the Hornets to win the series when I last checked. Strange is all.

Excellent stuff as usual from TrueHoop: Henry Abbott talks to Mike James. My favorite part…

  • Abbott: I'll tell you, one thing I notice about [Chris Paul], which seems to be a little bit like an underreported part of his game, but in a good way, he's just a little bit nasty. He's going for the jugular all the time.

    James: You know what, it's funny because I remember one time we were playing against Los Angeles, and he made a move to the basket and got fouled or whatever, and Kobe gave him like the little tap on the head, like, good move, good kid.

    And CP looked at him and gave him a tap back on the head, like, watch out, I'm not inferior to you.

Here's the most unique Hornets-Spurs preview you'll find on the web, complete with thoughts of Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan running on the beach…

  • The circumstances aren't exactly the same, but no NBA Playoff series has reminded me this much of a Rocky movie since Spurs-Knicks Final in the strike-shortened season of 1999 (Rocky V-let's just pretend the whole thing never happened). The Spurs-Hornets series covers all the major angles you remember from the third Rocky: Long reigning champion vs. young, hungry upstarts, the motivation to stay on top, and men sharing their strength.

Alejandro de los Rios was at Hornets practice yesterday, and delivers this story…

  • Chandler stepped up to the free throw line and started to take free throws in a businessman-like way — clearly he was doing work. But Mo Pete and Peja weren't having it. They started to try and hit Mo's Bank (!) on the same basket Tyson was shooting on.

    Chandler weathered the storm for a moment, then asked if the two could move down the court. Peja laughed, chucked up a shot that bounced off the wall, the top of the shot clock and right at TC. The Ceiling Fan Repairman then picked up the ball and chucked it down the court. One thing led to another, a ball cart came out and suddenly there were balls flying everywhere and Peja, smiling like an eight-year-old in a snowball fight, running off and on the court trying to pelt Jannero while dodging shots from Chandler.

    All while Byron Scott was doing his press conference.

    "I think we’re a little tense," he said.

Since the Spurs have now knocked the Suns out of the Playoffs four times in six years, we've got a whole bunch of folks in Phoenix rooting for the Hornets in round two. Bright Side of the Sun tells us what mistakes the Suns made in round one, and hopes the Hornets learn from them. A sampling…

  • It is crucial that teams don't double down on Timmy in the post. The only time the Spurs really move the ball well is out of the post and their aged perimeter players will make open stand still 3's if you let them.

    If you do double Duncan what seems to work best is to come late after he's started his move to the middle. If you are going to do this of course you have to overplay the baseline hand and be very smart and timely when your come across the lane with another big man. Come quick. Come hard. Or stay home.

Leaving you with the usual warm fuzzies…

Oh, I've ditched the Hornets-Mavs links in the right sidebar and put up a few relating to Hornets-Spurs. More will likely be added as I find them.

And I'm done. 

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