Game 3 Aftermath: Friday news wrap

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Published: May 9, 2008

Game 3 is in the books, with the Spurs finally making things interesting by defending their home floor last night. Ryan has our recap right here. And then there's the words of other people…

To start, the opening of Jeff McDonald's piece in today's San Antonio Express-News is kinda funny when you take it out of context…

  • Manu Ginobili finally found a view he liked: Flat on his back, with Bonzi Wells on top of him.

In the Times-Picayune, John DeShazier puts the Hornets' Game 3 loss in perspective

  • There's reason to be wary, obviously, but no need yet for the Hornets to tremble.

    One critical fact remains unchanged: New Orleans has home-court advantage and doesn't have to win a game in San Antonio.

    It would be nice, of course. It would probably lead to a quick conclusion of the series, would give the team a chance to rest, depending on the outcome of the Lakers-Utah series, and further stamp the Hornets as something special. But winning at the AT&T Center is a luxury for the Hornets, a necessity for the Spurs.

Also in the T-P, here's some quotes from Gregg Popovich, courtesy of Teddy Kider…

  • "I thought we played 48 minutes for the first time this series, and it got us a win," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said.
  • "They're not a team you're going to stop," Popovich said about the Hornets. "You just try to hang in there and you try to do your work for 48 minutes."

More quotes from the AP recap of Game 3

  • "We know that going 3-0 — it's never been done to come back like that," said Ginobili, who along with Parker consistently got to the rim. "Today, for us, it was a Game 7. We knew if we didn't win today, it was almost over. So we had a different approach. We played with more passion, more edge."
  • "You got to give them a lot of credit," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "I thought they played a lot more aggressive tonight. A lot more physical. Basically kind of took us right out of our game. I thought we lost our composure tonight a little bit as well."
  • "They made a lot more shots," Paul said. "We got away from our defensive game plan somewhat. We didn't defend as well as we did the first two games."
  • "We were waiting for that third quarter, that it would be on our side this time," San Antonio's Fabricio Oberto said. "I think we did a pretty good job. It's not the best job we can do."

This note found at the foot of the AP recap…

  • Paul's shoes read "Brian!" in white lettering in honor of an 8-year-old fan with cancer who was set to attend Monday's Game 2 but missed it with a fever and died hours later. "To the family, I'm terribly sorry," Paul said after the game. "I'm just happy I could honor Brian tonight by putting his name on my shoes. It has to be the most touching story I've had as a professional athlete."

The Spurs made a couple of big adjustments for Game 3, such as starting Manu Ginobili and switching Bruce Bowen over to cover Peja Stojakovic. Mike Monroe writes about the latter in the Express-News…

  • "He was next to me all the time," said Stojakovic of Bowen.

    It is the same lament Bowen has heard from such offensive stars as Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Steve Nash and Vince Carter, without the whining.

    "More than anything else," Bowen said, "I just tried to stay attached to him. He was the most consistent in the past two games in transition. They found him and I was able to stick with him in transition a lot of times, and the times I wasn't, I was able to direct guys to him."

In the Shreveport Times, Elizabeth White tells us about the Spurs finally putting together a strong third quarter

  • In the third the Spurs did not break down as they did in Games 1 and 2 when New Orleans took control. Their Big 3 — Duncan, Parker and Ginobili — took over, scoring all but three of San Antonio's 29 points in the period.

Jim Eichenhofer has the usual player-by-player report in his Game 3 recap. Here's his thoughts on Tyson Chandler…

  • He sat during a crucial portion of the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul. A nice offensive contribution (12 points, 5-for-5 shooting), but by his standards, eight rebounds in 36 minutes is below average. Played solid defense against Duncan in the first half; the Big Fundamental totaled 16 points.

Bits and pieces from John Hollinger's game recap over at ESPN's Daily Dime

  • Paul again was jaw-droppingly good. He scored 35 points on 15-of-25 shooting, handed out nine assists, and committed only one turnover. He also had the highlight of the night when he took contact from both Tony Parker and Tim Duncan on a drive to the hoop, spun in midair, and threw a blind shot over his head and in to get a foul-and-one. "I want my MVP vote back," yelled one scribe from courtside after that circus shot.
  • "I probably got [Parker] all screwed up [in Games 1 and 2] trying to get him to make perfect decisions," said Popovich. "We know he's better when he's aggressive and trying to score. That's the approach he took tonight."
  • Once again, the Hornets bent over backward to take Tim Duncan out of the game, which is one reason Parker and Ginobili were so huge. Duncan finished with only 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting, but it was his initial pass out of double-teams that led to several San Antonio triples.

    "We've been moving the ball, I think we just hit more shots tonight," said Duncan. "So we're going to continue to move the ball, and if they want to double me and get the ball out of my hands, we'll make them pay in other ways."

At the Hive with the Game 3 reaction

  • Honestly, I can't complain much about the Hornets' effort at all. Tip your hat to Tony Parker for a fantastic game, credit Ginobili for being much more aggressive, and credit Duncan for beating West to loose ball after loose ball. New Orleans started off with great intensity but it waned down the stretch. San Antonio's defensive strength only got stronger. In the end, you knew the Spurs were going to win a game… right? There's absolutely no way we went to S.A. and swept them. They're still the champs, they still play inspired defense, and they're far better and more versatile than the media gives them credit for.

Chris Paul's reaction to being named first team All-NBA yesterday…

  • "It's an unbelievable achievement, especially since no one in our organization has ever achieved that," Paul said. "It's been a storybook season already, and though this is an award that they give to individuals, my teammates understand it's all about them. It's an honor for me, and it's great for the team and the organization, too."

From John Reid's notebook in today's Times-Picayune…

  • Although Paul wore a protective sleeve over his right knee in the Hornets' shootaround practice Thursday morning at the AT&T Center, he did not have it on during warmup drills before Game 3 at the AT&T Center. Scott said Paul is a little banged up like everyone else.

A second-quarter slice from BDL's live blog of Game 3

  • goathair: Any reason why Melvin Ely is shooting fadeaways?
  • Matt Moore: Any reason Marvin Ely is shooting?
  • KDonhoops: Melvin Ely, any reason?

The X's and O's of basketball breaks last night's game down in words and video. Great stuff as always. Here's an excerpt…

  • I said it before and I say it again, shooting is the great talent equalizer. Even in tonights game, it is undeniable that the Hornets are the more talented team. So, the Spurs had to find ways to get open shots, then make them. They did that tonight by first scoring in the paint, then when the Hornets packed the lane, they found the open shooters in the corner. Bowen and Finley were the difference in this game making those big shots from the corner, 7-for-14 combined 3-point shooting. That is something the Hornets must make an adjustment to for Game 4.

Shawn Kirsch of Project Spurs isn't getting too excited with one win for San Antonio…

  • There is still no indication that the Spurs have taken it to a level that the Hornets can't overcome, they simply made more shots tonight. Duncan didn't have a spectacular game, but his presence was more noticeable, especially on defense. The bench played marginally better, but still have a long way to go, as every starter except Ginobili and Thomas played 40 minutes, and Ginobili wasn't far off. It remains to be seen how much energy the Spurs will take to game 4.

Similar thoughts from 48 Minutes of Hell

  • I'll say right now what I found simultaneously most impressive and most worrying this evening was the aggressive play of the Hornets. In a hostile environment, faced with a hungry yet sophisticated veteran squad, they were hardly intimidated and showed a cold-bloodedness the Spurs sometimes lack. They were genuinely going for the jugular last night, and although they failed, I was impressed nonetheless. Last night it became disturbingly vivid how well the Spurs are gonna need to play if we are gonna make it out of this round, much less win one for the thumb.

Before calling Chris Paul an infectious agent of the flopping scourge, Matthew Powell of Pounding the Rock says some nice things about him…

  • Look. I'm a Spurs fan; not an NBA fan. A Spurs fan. So I hope you can understand if I don't jump aboard the CP3 love train. He's a tremendous talent, no doubt. That upfake he administered on Duncan almost made me giggle. And his eyes… yes, they make me moist, ok? Happy?

Over at Yahoo! Sports, Johnny Ludden writes about Parker vs. Paul, and gives us an update on the Spurs health issues…

  • Though Duncan has downplayed his illness this week, team sources confirmed he had a 103-degree fever after Game 1 and he remained sick enough for team owner Peter Holt to seek near-daily updates on his condition. Only on Thursday did Duncan truly begin to feel a little better. Ginobili, likewise, also reported some improvement after being slowed by a sore left ankle he injured in the first game of the playoffs.

    Healthy or not, the Spurs are worried by these Hornets. Even in victory, they spent much of the game seemingly trying to hang on. As talented and athletic as the Hornets are, their resiliency has impressed even more. "These guys," one Spurs coach said, "just don't seem to care that the playoffs are supposed to be hard."

Hat tip to Hornets Asylum for this next one: Vincent Thomas of SLAMonline.com thinks that CP leaves Tony Parker in the dust

  • I loved that the Hornets-Spurs series began with Bowen checking Chris and Chris checking Tony. It's like Pop said, "We don't want Tony anywhere near Paul on defense," and Byron said, "Chris, go rough that dude up… and while you're at it, keep accounting for 95% of our offense and making us believe, too." Watch the Hornets when he doesn't have the ball… he actually tells his teammates when to move, where to go and who they should pass to. It's profound. Parker's deficiencies as a well-rounded ball player are on full-blast in this series, because they're in the context of Chris Paul. Which is why it's irritating to hear folks say that this is "a matchup between two great point guards" or to hear Dick Stockton say that Parker "quarterbacked" the Spurs to victory.

    Chris Paul is a band leader, Parker just plays a mean bassline.

ESPN.com has a roundtable discussing the dawn of a new era in the Western Conference. Henry Abbott's thoughts on the pack…

  • Certainly, the Lakers and the Hornets are, for the moment, the absolute class of the conference.

Sam Smith also thinks the power may be shifting in the West

  • The Spurs fought themselves off the ropes to take Game 3, though the Hornets look like they're capable of eliminating them. The Hornets were quicker and better defensively in the first two games and hung around through three quarters of Game 3. Chris Paul has been the star of the playoffs this far. You get the sense the Hornets believe they are the better team. If the Hornets can pull this one off, it could signal a changing of the NBA elite.

Via TrueHoop, here's Michael Grange of the Globe and Mail

  • There was one in the second quarter when [Chris Paul] ran a pick-and-roll around the foul line with Chandler. Duncan and Parker came out to trap — contain is probably a better word — and Paul headed for the baseline, bringing both defenders with him. Meanwhile Kurt Thomas had rotated to pick up Chandler and had pretty decent inside position, taking away a lob at the rim or any obvious passing angle. The reasonable play for Paul would have been to skip the ball out the three-point line or elbow area where Thomas' man, David West was lurking. The Spurs had defended this pretty well. So Paul looks right at West (I'm guessing) and Thomas shifts his weight getting ready to leave Chandler and get back to West, where the ball is headed, right? This is good defence. Except that in the instant that Thomas shifted his weight Paul slips a dirty little bounce pass (Paul uses a lot of bounce passes) along the baseline and gets a now open Chandler for a lay-up. This is the Spurs, a cohesive, veteran team who are expert defenders. They had assigned three guys to cover two, and with one late look-off Paul undressed them for a lay-up.

    The key here is that Paul looked in the direction that Thomas was concerned about — he wanted to get back to his man, so as soon as Paul looked like he was going to make the 'expected' pass, he was ready to go. Once he leaned he was committed and Chandler was open. Is it possible to find this play on YouTube? I'd love to link to it. It wasn't even the 'best' play Paul made, but just an example of how elevated a level he plays at. There was nothing he did athletically in this moment that any good high school player couldn't have managed. But like one of those girl Judo experts who can throw guys twice their weight, Paul generated a lay-up by using the Spurs defensive discipline and awareness against them. Special stuff, and if you love basketball you are obligated to watch this guy play, end of story.

That guy is right: the sequence he describes was not Chris Paul's best play last night. This was…

 

Finishing on a warm fuzzy yet again: Via the HR boards, we found this poll where you can vote for the best dance team left in the Playoffs. Last I checked, Kadie (the girl in the first pic) and our Honeybees were pretty damn close to the top, so get your ass over there and help give our fine bunch of ladies the edge.

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