Hornets-Spurs: Thursday News Wrap

Published: May 8, 2008

Game 3 of Hornets-Spurs is in the immediate future (8:30p.m. Central on ESPN), and we've got the usual dose of news, notes, quotes and anecdotes form around the web. You gotta love technology.

To start, Tommy Beer has nothing less than a fascinating read over at HoopsWorld.com, giving you about nine billion statistical reasons why Chris Paul should have won MVP this season (hat tip to TrueHoop for the find). I could quote so much from that article, but I'll just whet your appetite with these two…

  • Paul became the first player in over 25 years to lead the league in assists while still averaging fewer than 3 turnovers per game. (The last player to accomplish that feat was Johnny Moore back in 1981-1982.)
  • Following up on the previous entry, Johnny Moore averaged 9.65 assists. No player, other than Paul, has averaged double-digit assists and just 2.5 turnovers or less.

ESPN's Eric Neel on Chris Paul…

  • I'm not looking at a point guard. I'm looking at a damn miracle.

John Schuhmann posted an excellent interview with Jeff Bower over at NBA.com yesterday, focusing on how the Hornets GM built the team that's ripping through the playoffs right now. There's also a pretty cool table over there showing how Bower acquired all the pieces to the puzzle. Here's a slice from the Q&A where Bower talks about his resume…

  • "I've learned a lot from each one of those jobs, as well as experiences as a college assistant coach, working with young players and knowing cycles of development and seeing young guys change from 20-year olds to 22-year old players. All of those different things have helped you look at things, especially in this position, look at things from a broad picture of things. They've allowed me to have an understanding of people in different positions, their challenges that they face daily and it allows you to try and support them and help them, maybe with an "I've been there" type of mentality. So, my job is just to stay out of the way and let everybody do their job."

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin answers questions about the Hornets and Saints in The Wall Street Journal. He says he had his doubts at the start of the season, but now expects the Hornets to stay in town for a long time. He also comments on the charitable efforts of both franchises…

  • The Saints have donated artificial turf to one of our major stadiums that was damaged where we play a lot of high-school games. They have done things around the community with restoring houses and building houses and player appearances. The Hornets have done that and more. George Shinn has a particular affinity toward the homeless, which is a big problem for us. He donated money and talent and you name it to help us to try and address that issue. The list goes on and on. Playgrounds and parks. The Hornets and NBA came in and probably redid several major playgrounds in the area and community centers. They got Nike to donate floors that were made from old tennis shoes.

Okay, back to some Hornets-Spurs talk. We'll let Mike Celizic pick up where we left off…

  • If there isn't panic in San Antonio, there should be. And it shouldn't be Chicken Little, the-sky-is-falling panic, but the real, rending-of-garments and gnashing-of-teeth stuff. Biblical panic.

    The defending NBA champs and winners of four of the last nine titles are in a serious world of hurt against a Hornets team that's too new at this stuff to know it has no business treating the mighty Spurs like the junior varsity.

    New Orleans was supposed to take one look at Tim Duncan and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli and curl up in the fetal position and call for its mommy. Hasn't happened. Not even close. Instead of showing the respect that a champion is supposed to deserve, the Hornets have grabbed this series by the throat and shows no signs of letting go until there's no life left in it.

Over at WWL-TV, Bradley Handwerger writes about the camaraderie among the Hornets players and coaches, quoting Mo Pete in the process…

  • "It's a lot different from other teams," Morris Peterson said. "Nobody cares about scoring. Guys understand their roles. That's what this game is about. It's about playing together. When you win, everybody is successful."

John DeShazier writes about the Hornets impressive team defense in the postseason thus far…

  • "We've stated all along that we don't have the best individual defenders in the league," Coach Byron Scott said. "But as a team, we're pretty damn good."

    It ain't braggin' if you can back it up, and the Hornets back it up because they have their guard up.

    They've allowed an average of 90.9 points in seven playoff games. The defending champion Spurs, whose clockwork offense and savvy in the first round against Phoenix shredded a team allegedly built to beat them, have been held to 82 and 84 points in 19- and 18-point losses.

Also in the Times-Picayune, Jeff Duncan has a nice long article on that nice long kid named Julian Wright and his contributions to the Hornets playoff run…

  • What has changed is his confidence and understanding of the game. Wright said he doesn't have to think as much on the court, and as a result is seeing the floor better and understanding what to do and when to do it.

    "I'm much more confident," Wright said. "I can't take credit for all that. Obviously, I've worked on my shot, but playing in the games with guys like Chris (Paul), he creates great shots for you. And with a player like me, once I get that confidence, I feel like it opens up the rest of my game."

Mike Monroe suggests that we might see more of Brent Barry in Game 3, since he's feeling healthy and knocking down threes…

  • In a series in which the Hornets have chosen to make the Spurs beat them with perimeter shots, perhaps there is a role for a player who has made 61.5 percent of his 3-pointers in the first seven playoff games.

    Barry, the 13-year veteran guard who made 44.5 percent of his regular-season 3-pointers, made 4 of 5 from long range in the fourth period. That helped the Spurs trim the Hornets' 17-point lead to nine, with enough time to complete a comeback, if only their defense had been less porous.

Hardwood Paroxysm believes the Spurs will win Game 3 mostly because the whistles will be in their favor at home…

  • Tyson Chandler is fouling out of this game tonight. Book it. The Spurs are going to feed Duncan, and Duncan got 4 calls on Chandler in Game 2 in New Orleans. In San Antonio? He may have three in the first five minutes. Ginobili will be more aggressive, fall down in mid air and Chandler will be frustrated. Melvin Ely had a solid game in relief, but he's going to be frustrated against a desperate Spurs team.

Mike Finger has an article on the grumpiness of Gregg Popovich, which is especially evident in his conversations with the media. A few excerpts…

  • It can take some getting used to. Earlier this week, a group of New Orleans reporters solicited Hornets coach Byron Scott's advice on how to talk to Popovich. Scott laughed but had no suggestions.
  • "It's a flaw," Popovich said. "I should be less judgmental and more accommodating to ignorant questions."
  • "He's an ass year-round," Barry said, dishing out the kind of admiring, heartfelt compliment only his coach could appreciate. "You don't get much change out of coach Pop."

Les East writes about the Hornets poor first-half performances against the Spurs…

  • If the Hornets don't start any better than they did in New Orleans, by the start of the second half it might be too late to turn around Game 3 the way they did the first two.

    "We know that they're going to be at home, they're going to be a lot more comfortable, they're going to be around their fans, and they're going to have a lot more energy," Chandler said, "so we're going to have to do the same thing we did in Dallas and be able to resist that first punch."

In the Shreveport Times, Larry Wade has quotes from David West ahead of Game 3 in San Antonio…

  • "We won there earlier in the year, so we know that we can win there," said Hornets forward David West. "We're going to go there and play like we don't have anything to lose. Our task is to go in there and make Game 3 as difficult as possible. All the pressure is on them to win that game."
  • "We came out flat against Dallas in Game 3, when we had a 2-0 lead," said West. "We can't come out flat against the Spurs."
  • "We stay pretty relaxed," he said. "We're pretty confident in the fact that if we play the game the right way, whether we have a lead or we're down, we'll be able to maintain or get back in the game."

A few chunks from Mike Monroe's notes in the Express-News

  • Spurs guard Brent Barry, an avid amateur guitarist, spent some off-day time in New Orleans ogling beautiful guitars in a vintage guitar shop on Tchoupitoulas Street, a few blocks from the team's hotel.

    "Of course, we need to win these two (Games 3 and 4)," Barry said. "And it will be a nice fringe benefit to get back there to buy one of those guitars. There's a Les Paul (model) with my name on it somewhere in the Big Easy."

  • Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said two days off between Games 2 and 3 has his sore left ankle feeling much better, and just in time.

    Faced with an 0-2 deficit in the best-of-7 series, tonight's Game 3 is a "must-win."

    "Tomorrow is a Game 7," Ginobili said after Wednesday's lengthy practice, "and we just have to treat it as if it were the last one."

  • Spurs point guard Tony Parker said he would like a crack at defending Chris Paul, his Hornets counterpart, in tonight's game.

    He hinted that the game plan may include just that.

Buck Harvey finds solace in the fact that the Spurs are not the Mavericks

  • The Spurs are clearly smarter than the Dallas Mavericks. On the eve of Game 3, coming home and down 0-2, no one used a radio talk show to discuss his marijuana use.

A nice story on Bonzi Wells by Mike Finger. Seems like our very own ninja turtle has been loving life as a Hornet right from the start…

  • When he met his new teammates, he was ready to defend himself and prove he was worthy of another chance.

    Then something funny happened. The Hornets tried to prove they were worthy of him.

    "They treated me like I was the pope," Wells said. "Like I'd never done anything wrong."

  • "I didn't know how great this situation was going to be," Wells said. "I've been blown away."

48 Minutes of Hell, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite NBA blogs, wrote a great piece yesterday defending Bruce Bowen's aggressive style of play, which many people conceive as dirty. Here's a sampling…

  • For people to praise Paul for his hardened style, or other Hornets for ruggedly standing by him, but to simultaneously criticize Bowen is very problematic, in my opinion. There is no doubt that Bowen’s style of play resides in an ethical gray area, but that does not make him an ineffective player or a disloyal teammate, two attributes which seem to justify rough and tumble tactics in the minds of many basketball analysts.

Pounding the Rock has some thoughts ahead of the Spurs' "first must win of the season"…

  • I think the officiating has only slightly favored the Hornets, no where near to the point where it's even worth mentioning.
  • I think we should go under the screen and roll against Paul. It's how we handled him the first half of game 1, which also happened to be our best half of the series.
  • Bowen, of course, has to guard Peja.

And one more from a San Antonio blog: Here's Jeff's thoughts over at Project Spurs

  • Spurs haven't showed anything to Spurs Nation in this series other than they are old, and lack a killer instinct. They didn't even make the games 1 and 2 competative so what can I hang my hat on as the Spurs return to SA? NOTHING!

A touching story about Chris Paul, who will write the name "Brian" on his game shoes tonight in honor of an 8-year-old fan who died of cancer on Monday. How big a fan was the kid? This big…

  • In his final weeks, Brian told his family that he knew he was going to heaven and that he wanted to meet Jesus wearing his Chris Paul jersey.

I so stole this next one from Hornets Hype: A blogger at a rock station in New York was watching Chris Paul during that Game 1 ring of fire delay

  • TNT had to awkwardly fill air time that they did not expect to occur (not their fault), so they performed the tried and true method of panning around the court and commenting on the players they saw. The cameras hit Tim Duncan, who sat on the bench with coach Greg Popovich, holding the skipper's clipboard, drawing up fake plays that must have been hilarious by the way Popovich was laughing, and simply joking around. The cameras hit Bonzi Wells, who was having his own fun, showboating to the home crowd fans. But then the cameras hit Chris Paul, who simply stood there like mannequin, a steely gaze in his eyes that would have bordered on creepy had he been somebody who I met on the street. Chris Paul was not thinking about the hilarity of the situation at hand. He was not thinking about the crowd, nor was he thinking about the episode of Lost he had tivo'd, nor was he thinking about the ridiculously hot Hornets dancing squad, the Honeybees. He was thinking about basketball. Nothing else. Being a primary topic of discussion, TNT probably had Chris Paul on their cameras about four or five times, and he never lost that gaze.

Jim Eichenhofer has three key questions ahead of tonight's game. First he wonders if the Hornets can continue to keep Tony Parker out of the lane…

  • This was perhaps the biggest key to holding San Antonio to only 84 points in Game 2. Parker might be the best finisher around the basket among point guards in the NBA, but his jump shot remains erratic. New Orleans prevented him from driving to the rim, forcing him to fire 20-footers. He couldn't get untracked from the perimeter and went 5-for-14 overall.

Quick hitters to finish it out…

Can you illuminate darkness? Or is that one of those oxymoron things that the smart kids talk about? Dammit. Where's Ryan when you need him?

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