The Hornets beat the Spurs; lead series 1-0

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Published: May 4, 2008

Kick. Ass.

The Hornets held Tim Duncan to a career playoff low 5 points and cruised to a big win over the Spurs in Game 1 tonight. David West led the Hornets with 30 points, Peja Stojakovic added 22, while Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler both came up big with double-doubles. Twas a glorious team effort, and a damn fine night at the Hive.

Hornets-Spurs Game 1 - The Hive was buzzin'

Notes on the fantasticness…

  • Final score was 101-82 ( recap | box score ), but it was a much tighter game than that would suggest. Our guys jumped out to a fast 8-0 start, then fell behind by as much as 11 points in the second quarter. But the second half was a different story, as the Hornets scored at will while locking down San Antonio. We were up five a minute deep in the fourth, then steadily built the lead from there, the crowd getting louder and louder with every David West jumper and Chris Paul fast break.
  • So how did the Hornets do it? The biggest thing had to be their defense. The master plan was to double down on Duncan and not give him much room to breathe, and we did that quite well, forcing him into perhaps the worst playoff performance of his career. He shot just 1-of-9 from the field for 5 points and 3 rebounds in 37 minutes.
  • Of course, that double-teaming was bound to leave somebody open, and most of the time it was Bruce Bowen. After scoring a grand total of four points against the Suns in the first round, dude went off for 17 in the first half tonight, nailing five of his first six shots from deep. He even completed a four-point play when Chris Paul fouled him on that fifth make.

    But I loved the fact that the Hornets didn't change their defense just because Bowen was hot. The plan was a good one, our guys believed in it, and we stuck with it in the second half. We continued to double down on Duncan and give Bowen similar open looks, and he started missing. He did not score a single point after halftime.

  • The defense was also pretty good on Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Those two combined for 42 points, neither of them ever really getting loose to do serious damage. Give Morris Peterson and Julian Wright the credit for limiting Manu. They both did a fantastic job chasing him around screens, denying the ball and staying in front of him on the drive as much as any human can.
  • As for Parker, he was guarded by Chris Paul for the most part, and scored his points on a combination of fast breaks, pull-up jumpers and those nifty drives through the lane. He was probably the best Spur on the floor tonight. Either they run more isolation plays for him than anyone else on the team, or else he's too quick for our help defense, because he seemed to end up with much more room to operate than Duncan or Ginobili.
  • David West was nothing short of a stud for us tonight. Just like in Game 1 against Dallas, he started slow, then warmed all the way up to boiling point. In the second half alone, he knocked down 7-of-10 shots from the field, grabbed 6 rebounds, drew 6 fouls, and almost made Fabricio Oberto cry when he swatted his shot out of bounds four minutes deep in the fourth. West finished the game with 30 points (13-23 FG's) and 9 rebounds.

    West has become an almost unstoppable force on the offensive end. There's not much he can't do. Tonight he was burying those 17-footers, busting nice moves on the low block, and facing up and blowing by whoever was trying to guard him. He'll burn you at the free throw line too if you want to keep fouling him. Total package.

    He's also more patient out there nowadays, less likely to force anything. He used to get frustrated and try bull his way to the basket every now and then, usually resulting in an offensive foul. But he's cleaned that up. I can't even remember the last time he was called for a charge. The one thing that's still lingering is his hesitation to shoot the open jumper — it's almost like he has to have a defender within five feet of him before he'll pull the trigger — but he never seems to do that late in the shot clock anymore.

    In conclusion: David West rocks my world.

  • How about Peja tonight? With 18,040 copies of his head watching from the stands, the Serb dropped 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He got those points in a variety of ways, too; only two of his buckets came from beyond the arc. Peja was also the guy most often doubling down on Duncan, so kudos for a job well done there.
  • Also fantastic was Tyson Chandler. He came out with more energy than the sun in the first quarter, grabbing seven rebounds before four minutes had dropped off the clock. He did a great job all game playing Tim Duncan into the help defense, and even held his own on those rare occasions when he was left to stop Timmy one-on-one. His help D was great, too. Tyson always seemed to be in there to clog the lane when Manu came through, and I saw him diving out to challenge those corner threes more than once. He finished his night's work with 10 points, 15 boards and 3 blocks. Oh, and perhaps the biggest thing: He only picked up two fouls.
  • Overall, we out-rebounded the Spurs 50-34.
  • Chris Paul: 17 points, 13 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and just 2 turnovers. The Spurs did a pretty good job of limiting his scoring opportunities, often switching on the pick and roll and blocking his path down the lane. Bowen was guarding him for most of the night, with Tony Parker and Jacque Vaughn also having a go. As usual, Chris took what the defense was giving him, which amounted to 10 assists by the end of the third quarter. He scored 9 of his points in the last four minutes, putting the final nails in the Spurs' coffin with hardcore makes and easy breaks. Kobe might have won the MVP award, but the chants for Paul as the League's best persisted tonight. They were deafening in that fourth quarter, and they were well deserved.
  • The crowd was at fever pitch all night. Every game I wonder how the atmosphere can possibly get any better, only to return a few days later and experience an even greater high. I could try tell you about the 18,040 fans all dressed in gold tonight — cheering, screaming, booing, clapping, waving, flexing, dancing and romancing at various stages of the night — but it really is indescribable. I feel bad for all you Hornets fans that can't make it to the games. If you bleed teal like I do, there's no better place in the world to be.
  • We got good minutes from our reserves. Bonzi gave us some big buckets in the fourth quarter, though I thought he cheated off Mike Finley a little too much at the other end. Oh well. Pargo had a rough shooting night but did everything else well in his 21 minutes. JuJu gave us nine minutes of pure energy, doing a great job defensively and also coming up with some hustle points. Melvin Ely made his first appearance of the postseason, logging 13 minutes and doing a surprisingly good job defending Duncan while spelling Chandler.

    And then there was Ryan Bowen, who played two minutes of garbage time and threw up a 27-footer that would have lifted the roof had he hit it.

  • We held the Spurs to just 40.8% shooting. I was surprised they threw up so many threes tonight; 12-of-31 they finished from deep. I don't think Gregg Popovich was particularly happy with all those long bombs either. The Spurs seemed to come out of their timeouts in the second half intent on driving the ball to the basket, presumably because Pop threatened to tear them a new one if they didn't. That was a much better tactic by the Spurs, but our defense was too strong and their free throw shooting too dismal for it to make much of a difference.
  • Oh yeah, that whole delay thing in the first half: Super Hugo jumped through a ring of fire for a dunk between quarters. It was nice and everything, but the ground crew (or whatever you call them) couldn't put out the flames without a serious hit from a fire extinguisher, which pretty much destroyed the court. Much mopping, sweeping and twenty minutes later, play resumed.

    I doubt we'll see that trick again anytime soon.

  • I know there were some hard hits by the Hornets in this one, but I have yet to see any replays. Looked like Bonzi caught Bruce Bowen nasty in the third quarter, but the fans roared down "stop the flop" anyways. And I completely missed whatever triggered that confrontation between CP and Bowen late in the third quarter. I can only assume that they disagreed about Julia Roberts being an attractive woman.

So a fine start to the second round, to be sure. Much props to Byron Scott for a good game plan, and of course to the players for executing it beautifully. That defense had me goosebumped.

Game 2 happens on Monday evening. Should be interesting to see how the Spurs bounce back. Regardless, I know our guys will be ready for the punch. These Hornets don't believe they can get knocked out.

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