Hornets-Spurs: Saturday News Wrap

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Published: May 3, 2008

Game Day! Round 2 tips tonight as the Hornets battle the Spurs in New Orleans at 9:00p.m. Central. We posted the full schedule for the series earlier, so check that out. Here's what everybody be talking about ahead of the big game…

First the big news: Kobe Bryant will be named MVP. Mike Bresnahan broke the story in the LA Times…

  • Sources familiar with the outcome who were not authorized to speak publicly about the award until the official announcement from the league said Commissioner David Stern will be in Los Angeles next week to present the trophy to Bryant.

Not much reaction to that on the internets just yet, but I'm sure we'll see plenty in due time. Congrats to Kobe on winning the award. I don't really care that Chris Paul didn't get it, and I doubt CP cares either. Beating the Spurs would be much more satisfying for him, I'm sure.

Over at FanHouse, Will Brinson thinks the MVP snub will only serve as motivation for Paul, and picks the Hornets to beat the Spurs in seven…

  • Stud of the Series: Chris Paul. It's not even close, either, folks. Kobe Bryant just reportedly won the MVP award, and even though you might not think of him in this way, I can promise you that no one plays better basketball with a chip on their shoulder than Paul. He is going to go so freaking large in this series, it's borderline absurd. Has anyone ever averaged a triple double over the course of a seven game series before?

The Spurs went the hack-a-Shaq route against Phoenix. In the San Antonio Express-News, Mike Finger wonders if they might try something similar against the Hornets…

  • The Hornets made 77.8 percent of their free throws in the five games of their first-round playoff series against the Mavericks. And while Tyson Chandler, Melvin Ely and Ryan Bowen all shot under 60 percent from the foul line during the regular season, there would seem to be no natural target for the intentional fouling the Spurs employed in their first-round series against the Phoenix Suns.

    Asked if he was relieved that there would be little temptation to use the tactic in the series, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich defended its use.

    "I don't know what you mean by relief," Popovich said. "Maybe it's a relief for you, but coaching-wise, one does what one thinks might help a team win, and it's a legitimate tactic within the rules."

Also from that article, we're reminded of the scuffle between Chris Paul and Bruce Bowen not so long ago…

  • The last time the Spurs played the Hornets, it was a notable night for Bruce Bowen for two reasons. First, it was his 500th consecutive start, which was the longest streak in the NBA at the time. And second, it turned out to be the last game of that streak.

    Bowen received a one-game suspension for kicking Chris Paul during the Spurs' 100-75 loss on March 12. At the time, Paul was incensed by Bowen's actions. But the Hornets don't expect any animosity from that incident to carry over into the playoffs.

In case you missed that whole thing, here's video from two different perspectives…

Mike Monroe tells us that Manu Ginobili is not fully healthy coming into this series, and it's possible he might start Game 1 so he doesn't tighten up on the bench…

  • Ginobili's left ankle has been sore for some time, but he jammed it late in the Spurs' victory in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Phoenix Suns and has suffered increased swelling and pain.

    Though he played the remaining three games, Ginobili's productivity dipped sharply, game to game. He scored 20 points and grabbed five rebounds in Game 3, but had only 10 points in Game 4. In Game 5, he experienced little but frustration, missing 9 of 11 shots and scoring only eight points in 27 minutes.

Jeff McDonald tells us how Tony Parker has improved over the years thanks to some tough love from Gregg Popovich…

  • Once considered a playoff disappointment, Parker — in his seventh season at the ripe age of 25 — has blossomed into a playoff star.

    A year after a brilliant 2007 postseason run that culminated in an NBA Finals MVP prize, Parker has picked up where he left off.

    He averaged 29.6 points and seven assists in the first round against Phoenix, at times dragging his team by its lapels toward a five-game series victory. Only two players — Kobe Bryant and LeBron James — are scoring at a higher clip this postseason.

Great story on Byron Scott in the Express-News today, although it is peppered with some predictions Hornets fans won't like…

  • The Spurs will win in six games for the usual reasons. In no specific order, they are Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.

Bonzi hearts Chris

  • "I tell him all the time, he's got that glow," said Wells, who joined Paul and the Hornets at midseason. "There's just something about him that makes him stand out in everything he does."

Jim Eichenhofer delivers another post-practice Q&A with Byron Scott

  • Q: Speaking of Melvin Ely, with the Spurs being a bigger team than the Mavericks, do you expect Melvin to play more in the series? Do you activate Chris Andersen?

    Scott: It's a bigger team. Being that it is a post-up team first, you've got to have some fouls you can give. Those guys are going to be very important. What am I going to do (with the roster and active list)? I'm not sure yet. I'm going to wait until tomorrow (to decide).

More quotes from Byron in today's Advocate…

  • "It's the same as Dallas in that our No. 1 goal is to keep them out of transition," Scott said. "Tony Parker is a one-man fast break, Ginobili is a one-man break, so you've got to get back and form a wall so those guys aren’t getting layups."

    Scott added that New Orleans has "to protect the paint at all costs" and slow down one of the big three — Duncan, Ginobili, or Parker. "You've got to take away one of those guys," Scott said. "All three of those guys can't have great series."

In the Times-Picayune, Dan McCarney brings the conversation back to Playoff experience

  • Seeking their fifth championship in 10 seasons, the Spurs are defined as much by their veteran savvy as Tim Duncan's bank shot or Ginobili's winding drives through the lane.

    Their 12-man roster has combined to play in 1,036 playoff games, by far the highest figure in the league. In comparison, Hornets players have appeared in 242 postseason games.

Teddy Kider spells it out

  • Beyond a berth in the conference finals, a series win for the Hornets would mean the rise of a new heavyweight in the West and possibly the beginning of the end for an old one. A win for the Spurs would mean the continuation of a dynasty and the end of the road this season for a team that some have called too young.

The Hornets are obviously doing good in New Orleans these days, and John Reid tells us that they are becoming uber-popular outside of the Bayou, too…

  • Based on figures obtained from the league's marketing department, the Hornets are among the top-selling teams in merchandise at the NBA Store in New York City. Since the All-Star break, online sales of Hornets merchandise at NBA.com have increased by triple digits, league officials said.

    Point guard Chris Paul ranks only behind Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James in jersey sales. In January, Paul's jersey ranked as the 15th most popular.

Staying with the same article, here's a few snippets from the notes at the bottom…

  • Hornets Coach Byron Scott said his biggest concern going into tonight's Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs is finding a way to limit Manu Ginobili.

    "He has the ability to get to the basket and make shots," Scott said. "The thing about Manu is that for the most part, he plays harder than everybody he plays against and to add the talent that sometimes he can embarrass you. But he is a key part for what they do."

  • Hornets center Tyson Chandler spent extra time after practice shooting free throws.

    He made two in the five games against Dallas.

    "I expect to go to the line more and knock them down," Chandler said. "With this team (San Antonio), they are not going to beat themselves. You've got to be mentally prepared and understand what they want to accomplish out there. You've got to be ready to execute defensively."

From Jannero Pargo's latest blog entry over at Hornets.com…

  • I don't really read all the different newspapers, so I wasn't aware of what people have been writing or saying about me playing well in the Dallas series. I have noticed after practice that there has been a little bit more attention from the media. But anytime you have success, you have to take it the right way. I'm just trying to stay grounded, and do the same things I've been doing. And not get too big-headed or whatever.

Morris Peterson has also been blogging over there. He talks about guarding Manu Ginobili, and Peja on a Stick…

  • I think the Peja heads are hilarious. When I first saw the team's staff running around the arena with those, I just started laughing. Those are great, especially because of the expression on Peja's face. It’s such a funny picture. They're giving them away to everyone who comes to Game 1, so I guess you're going to see 18,000 Pejas in the stands. That's going to be a lot of fun to see.

While we're on the subject, Hornets Hype has a picture from the Hornets parade through the French Quarter yesterday, which featured those very SerbSicles. Yes, SerbSicles. That's what they're calling them. Me likey.

Back to more serious stuff, and ESPN's David Thorpe has a lengthy preview of the Hornets-Spurs series. Figure this one out: Thorpe calls the Hornets the better team, but expects the Spurs to win in six…

  • In the end, I think New Orleans is a slightly better team, but the Spurs are chasing history in a profound way. They are an amazing team in crunch time, and the teams they play against often are not. And that will be the difference.

Almost all of those ESPN guys seem to be down on the Hornets actually. Out of a panel of ten, only John Hollinger picks New Orleans to win this series. But then nobody expected me to be a fabulous dancer either, and we all know how that turned out.

More predictions, this time courtesy of CBSSports.com. Only one of their five "experts" expects the Hornets to win. Worth noting that four of the same five picked the Hornets to beat the Mavs in the first round.

Matthew Powell of super-biased Spurs blog Pounding the Rock

  • I, for one, am glad this series starts in New Orleans. This gives the Spurs the opportunity to put the fear of God in them right off the bat. A loss in game 1 and the story line for the whole series begins to write itself: the Hornets lack playoff experience and the Spurs know how to turn it up in the postseason. Whether or not either of those ideas are true is irrelevant; getting them into Paul and companys' heads is what matters.

Bethlehem Shoals of Free Darko previews the Hornets-Spurs series as only he can…

  • There are many reasons to hate the Spurs, and anyone devoted to this negative cause has seen fit to adjust his over time. Lately, I've come to see their reliance on big shots and random veterans delivering as basketball's answer to faith healing. But the fact remains that no team offers as definitive a foil as San Antonio. In part, it's because they're capable of playing any and every style, either mirroring the opponent or walloping them with their opposite.

    It's this blank, implacable dominance that makes them the team every contender should want to go through. Beat San Antonio, and no questions remain.

More great stuff from Alejandro de los Rios over at the Best of New Orleans Blog. This time he's talking with Jannero Pargo about names, poker and d'internet…

  • Pargo then went on to say that he doesn't read any newspapers or Web pages or anything like that. And, even more surprisingly, Jannero said he doesn't even like his name.

    "Every time I meet someone, I gotta say my name four times," he said.

    Well, I can definitely relate to that. I then left practice yesterday pretty content on what I found out. But something kept nagging at me. Is it possible that they don't have internet and newspapers in the Shire?

Interesting read as always from At the Hive: Rohan looks back at the Spurs-Jazz series a year ago to see what the Hornets can learn from it…

  • The Spurs aren't a spectacular shooting team (9th among playoff squads in eFG%), nor do they draw a lot of fouls (21st in FT/FG). That's why it's stunning that Utah decided to hack the hell out of the Spurs in the Conference Finals. The Jazz fouled at a rate of 43 FT(allowed)/FG while the Spurs drew a mere 23.5 FT/FG in the regular season. In essence, Utah turned one of San Antonio's only weaknesses into a great strength.

    New Orleans fouled way too much in the initial games versus Dallas (+40 rate in the first 3). They ramped it down as the series concluded, and they would be very wise not to repeat Utah's mistake.

Over at NBA.com, John Schuhmann looks back at the last two times the Hornets and Spurs met, then looks forward with some thoughts on the series…

  • In the two Hornets wins over the Spurs this season, David West averaged 30.5 points on .707 shooting. In the two Spurs wins, West averaged 15.5 points on .419 shooting. Think Gregg Popovich has taken note of that? The Spurs must rotate when Paul and West play pick-and-pop. And when West backs his man down, as he likes to do, they must help in the paint and make him give up the ball.
  • I thought Tyson Chandler did a decent job of guarding Tim Duncan one-on-one. It will depend on how the other Spurs are shooting, but the Hornets might not want to automatically double TD in the post if he's going against Chandler.

Here's a good way to see some of the finer points of the Spurs offense and defense: Run this google search to find any posts about them Spurs over at The X’s & O’s of Basketball. There's some great video analysis over there. 

And finally, I have absolutely no idea what Philipp is saying over at his German Hornets blog, but I wholeheartedly agree…

  • Tim Duncan wird man kaum stoppen können, offensiv wie defensiv. Chandler wird alle Hände voll zu tun haben, um dann doch schon nach vier Minuten mit zwei Fouls auf die Bank zu gehen. Scott spricht davon, in dieser Serie auch Ely und Armstrong (Birdman!!!11!!1) Minuten zu geben, um Duncan zu verteidigen pervers an die Linie zu schicken. Nebenbei: ist es bedenklich, wenn ich letzte Nacht schon davon geträumt habe, dass "Mr. Mückennetz" dreimal in Folge Jannero Pargo geblockt hat? Herjeh.

Indeed.

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