Hornets-Spurs Game 1 Aftermath: Sunday News Wrap

Published: May 4, 2008

The Hornets got off to a fine start with a convincing win over the Spurs in Game 1 yesterday. On a super-fantastic morning in New Orleans, here's me bringing you the latest buzz from around the web. Enjoy!

Jim Eichenhofer's got a funky recap of what went down last night, diving into the usual player-by-player performance analysis. Here's what he had to say about Peja Stojakovic…

  • The most impressive aspect of his 22-point game was the varied ways he got his points. Often almost exclusively used as a release valve in the halfcourt offense as a three-point shooter, the Hornets exploited mismatches by posting up the 6-foot-10 forward against smaller defenders. The Spurs must have thought they could get away with using point guards Parker and Jacque Vaughn to defend Stojakovic — thus enabling Bruce Bowen to guard Paul — but Stojakovic made them pay by taking the Spurs' smaller players into the post. 

Lots of talk today about that delay in the first half. John Reid tells the story in the Times-Picayune…

  • The delay came after the Hornets' mascot, SuperHugo, jumped through a ring of fire before dunking to entertain the crowd. However, when Arena officials put out the flames from the ring with the extinguishers, a sand-like residue scattered across the court that took 20 minutes to remove.

    "As we do after each home game, we will research and evaluate all incidents with the intent of making sure the necessary steps are taken to prevent any mishaps from happening again," Hornets spokesman Harold Kaufman said.

    Arena officials had difficulty removing the sand-like substance with mops. It was not until wet towels were put under the mops that the substance began to dissipate.

In the San Antonio Express-News, Buck Harvey says the Spurs once had a similar mishap

  • Hugo and the Hornets will hear about this, but the Spurs can't act too superior. After all, they once had their own fire-induced humiliation.

    Then, on Nov. 3, 1994, a series of pyrotechnics were set off inside the Alamodome as part of the Spurs' opening-night ceremonies.

    The fireworks triggered a fire-control water cannon mounted on the front of an upper deck, which soaked hundreds of fans with a high-pressure spray and about 12,000 gallons of water.

Also in today's Express-News, Jeff McDonald has quotes from Gregg Popovich

  • "They're a hell of a basketball team. They can play with anyone, they have done so, and they will continue to do so. They're real."
  • "Obviously, Timmy didn't have his greatest night, but you have give New Orleans credit for that."

More from Popovich courtesy of Teddy Kider's lead story in today's Times-Picayune

  • "The Hornets are a lot further along than people may think," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said Saturday morning. "They've already beaten us to death twice this year, just knocked the hell out of us. So we respect them fully. We know the job that Byron and his staff have done, and as I said way back in the beginning of the season, this is the first time these guys have really been healthy."

Mike Finger is expecting this series to get very interesting due to "combustible personalities" on both sides…

  • Maybe the Western Conference semifinals will end without any more of what Bowen likes to politely call "situations," but from the looks of things in Game 1, that's not likely. These are two teams with a combustible mix of irritants and fiery personalities, and it has the potential to get ugly.

    By the time this is over — and it might go seven games to settle this — the same makeshift crew of New Orleans Arena staffers who spent 20 minutes mopping up flame retardant might be clearing the court of body parts. 

Speaking of which, here's video of the third-quarter incident between CP and Bowen. Chris obviously tried to pull a fast one…

A nice game recap by John Hollinger over at ESPN's Daily Dime. Here's a sampling…

  • In preparing his team for the defending champs, Scott decided to bust out his three championship rings and show them to the players.

    However, one other piece of Scott's preparation may have been more helpful. He had Tyson Chandler practicing free throws for an hour after practice on Friday in anticipation of a "Hack-a-Chandler" strategy by the Spurs, after seeing Popovich use the Hack-A-Shaq frequently in the Phoenix series.

    Popovich tried it tonight to gain the last shot at the end of the first half, but Chandler — who shot 59.3 percent from the line during the regular season — made them pay by converting both free throws. 

Also at the above link, Hollinger has a sidebar dedicated to Timmy D's performance last night…

  • Duncan shot 1-for-9 from the field in a dismal five-point, three-rebound effort as New Orleans beat San Antonio 101-82 in Game 1. The five points tied his playoff career low, but the other time he did it came in a win over Portland in the 1999 conference finals.

    This was a much more somber occasion.

    "Things just didn't go my way," said Duncan. "We'll make adjustments… and see what happens next game."

Sticking with ESPN.com for a minute: Henry Abbott had series predictions from a panel of seven yesterday. Four of those seven — a group including Hollinger and Henry's mom — picked the Hornets to win the series. And before anyone questions the credibility of Mrs. Abbott, know that she was the only person I've heard of to pick the Hornets over the Mavs in five.

Speaking of predictions, At the Hive rounded up a bunch of them for the Hornets-Spurs series yesterday. Seems 12 out of 17 cats prefer San Antonio. We'll see how that works out for them.

Some bits and pieces from the game notes posted at Hornets.com's Courtside Live blog

  • It is just the fourth time since the 2005 playoffs that the Spurs have lost the first game of any series in the playoffs (14 total series).
  • The Hornets shot 50 percent from the floor (43-of-86) and out-rebounded the Spurs 50-34… when shooting 50 percent or better, the Hornets are 10-0 in the playoffs and when the Hornets outshoot and win the battle of the boards against their opponents, the Hornets own a 13-0 mark.
  • The Spurs hit 12 triples in the game, an opponent franchise playoff high… the previous best was 10, done twice in Hornets playoff history.

Tony Parker's words in the AP recap of Game 1

  • "David West is the one that really, really hurt us tonight," Parker said. "He made outside shots, and once he made his outside shots he was having the drive, so we can't all focus on Chris Paul."

James Rees continued with the premonitions over at Swarming the Ball. His words ahead of yesterday's game…

  • I would like for someone to point out to me who on the Spurs roster even has a chance of holding down the mighty David West. After dismantling the Dallas big men with a bevy of powerful yet refined offensive moves, West has got to be feeling pretty confident. The guy is on fire.

Praise for West and CP from Hardwood Paroxysm… 

  • David West makes me love basketball. I'm back from hating life after Suns. CP3's flurry at the end was the kind of thing that burns itself into your retinas and you want to see him do it every single second of every game. The Revolution, it seems, Will Be Televised.

In the T-P, Nakia Hogan writes about Spurs assistant coach Don Newman, who is a News Orleans native and still has lots of family down here…

  • Newman's mother Shirley certainly is enjoying the experience. She outfitted many of her neighbors with Spurs gear, including T-shirts, yard signs and flags.

    "She's a proud momma," Newman said. "Everybody in this city is rooting for the Hornets, as they should be. But she is rooting for the Spurs, as she should be. It's kind of fun. She's got the flags, all the memorabilia. She's wearing the shirts. She's got everybody on the block wearing it. I think we have a few more Spurs fans here than you think." 

Also in the T-P, John DeShazier marvels at the Hornets brilliance displayed on Saturday, but realizes this series is far from over…

  • It was just Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, and the Spurs aren't going to go quietly. San Antonio won't panic because it trails 1-0 in a best-of-seven series. All it takes is one win in New Orleans for the Spurs to take home-court advantage, so the aftertaste of Saturday's loss quickly is washed away with the knowledge that there still is time to get the one they need.

Shawn Kirsch of Project Spurs looks ahead to Game 2 tomorrow…

  • San Antonio's bench really needs to start delivering. Intangibles are a great asset throughout the game, but production in visible stats is also a must. Duncan will be more involved in the game earlier in the next meeting, which will make life easier for both Ginobili and Parker, who struggled in the second half. The Spurs will need to put the game out of the reach of Paul's crew before the 4th quarter, as Parker won't be able to continue doing what he does every game much longer, logging 40 minutes a night.
  • Where in the world is Matt Bonner? It seems to me that he could be effective against West, but he'll need to be on the court to do that.

Alejandro de los Rios gives us a great picture of George Shinn and tales of more comedic moments

  • The team still isn't tense, though. While they might not be playing dodgeball in the locker room, they are loose, laughing and joking around. Ely, for example, had to deal with in the form of Hilton Armstrong, who was making faces and saying "like little baby toes, like mini vienna sausages" (quotes from the movies "Superbad") behind the reporter and cameraman. How is it that Ely was able to keep his focus?

    "Years of practice," he said.

Warm fuzzies for the big finish…

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