The Hornets beat the Spurs; lead series 3-2

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Published: May 14, 2008

Man, both these teams suck on the road.

The series swung back to New Orleans tonight and our Hornets were back in business, using a massive 28-11 third quarter to sting the Spurs and put ourselves back in control. David West was nothing short of monstrous on the night, Chris Paul was Chris Paul, and Morris Peterson picked up the slack with mucho three pointers.

All in all, it was a damn fine night at the Hive. 

Chris Paul and David West got it done in Game 5

Let me try keep the notes short and to the point this time. These late games are killing my sleepy time…

  • Final score was 101-79. Linkage: recap | box score
  • Probably the biggest difference tonight from the past two games was the Hornets intensity. Obviously energized by the home crowd, they showed much better hustle on defense and played way more aggressively than they did in San Antonio. It was a pretty tough game, with 53 personals and 3 technicals called by the three officials named Joey. Tony Parker got beat up a lot and that seemed to knock him off his game. I didn't have the advantage of replays at the Arena, but I think most of the Hornets hits were just good hard fouls, and they worked well.
  • We adjusted a little on Duncan, playing him more straight up than we did in the previous four games. Byron still sent the double teams, but they usually didn't come until Timmy put the ball on the floor, making it more difficult for him to pass out of there. Tyson Chandler did a great job on Duncan for the most part, giving him very few easy looks at the basket and staying out of foul trouble. Duncan finished with just 10 points on 5-18 shooting, although he did tear down a beastly 23 boards.
  • As Ryan predicted in his Game 5 preview, David West had himself a game. His numbers: 38 points, 16-25 FG's, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks and 2 steals. West had the entire package working in this one, putting together undoubtedly his best performance of the season. He helped keep us in the game in the first half when nobody else could buy a bucket, passed well out of double teams all night, played solid help D, and just abused whoever the Spurs put on him down low. Fabricio Oberto is probably pulling his beautiful hair out right about now.
  • Our bench pretty much sucked again. Pargo had 10 points but he didn't shoot well. Beyond that we got 6 points from the reserves. Bonzi was really only good for some hard fouls tonight. With the bench not delivering, Byron Scott opted to open the fourth quarter with all our starters on the floor. Popovich went with a five of Udoka, Ginobili, Barry, Finley and Oberto, and didn't get Parker and Duncan back out there until there was 8:26 left.
  • We tried to free up Peja from Bowen some more. We ran him along the baseline and around various picks to get him good looks. It didn't work great, with the Serbian only launching 9 shots and connecting on 3. I'm still waiting to see him in the pick and roll with Paul, trying to create mismatches.
  • Hmm. I just noticed that we out-rebounded the Spurs 50-41, despite those 23 boards by Duncan. No other Spur had more than 4 rebounds. Peja had 11 tonight.
  • Chris didn't have his shot working in the first half, but started taking it strong to the hole after the break. He scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, and finished the game with 14 assists and just 1 turnover. He also pretty sure he didn't flop once.
  • Good bounce back game character-wise for the Hornets. They got way too bitchy down in San Antonio, arguing with the refs and shoving random Spurs. West in particular seemed to be focused on the job at hand tonight. I thought he really let himself and the team down with how he acted in Game 4, but he definitely redeemed himself in this one. Head down, play the game, let the final score do the talking.
  • Great atmosphere at the Arena as usual. They had the crowd pumped up with clips from the movie 300 on the big screen ("Give them nothing, but take from them EVERYTHING!"), Hugo running from midcourt to the upper bowl with the Rocky theme tune blaring, and Drew Brees throwing an autographed football from courtside to the upper deck. Good times.
  • One low blow: that dude with the life-size Eva Longoria cutout behind the basket when Parker was shooting free throws in the fourth quarter. I laughed at the time, as did everyone in the Arena (damn you, mob mentality) but in hindsight that was just way too personal. We're better than that, New Orleans.
  • The Spurs stayed ahead in the first half mainly because they were busy dropping 6-of-9 from three. In the second half they managed to hit just 3-of-14 from deep. As a team the Spurs shot just 37.7 percent from the field overall. Bowen and Udoka were their only guys to hit at least half their shots, and they only launched 11 between them.
  • Two other things I thought the Hornets did really well tonight: They took care of the ball and they kept Parker out of the lane. As a team we only had 6 turnovers, compared to 23 in the last two games combined. Parker scored 18 points but only 6 of them came in the paint.
  • Cause for concern: Tyson left the game about three minutes into the fourth quarter with what's being called a bruised left foot. He had to be helped to the sideline by his teammates. West also came out of the game late due to back pain. In the AP recap, it says Byron isn't too concerned and expects them to both play on Thursday, so hopefully that's the case.

So there we have it. Just when everyone thought the momentum had completely shifted in the Spurs favor, the Hornets get back home and lay another beat down on the defending champs. I'll admit I was pretty nervous ahead of the game tonight, but after how it went down, I'm feeling confident about our chances of winning the series. Game 6 will be tough and we might not be at full health, but if it comes to a Game 7 — which wouldn't be played until next Monday — it will be in New Orleans, and then you have to favor the team that's won the last three games here by an average of almost 20 points.

Two chances to slay the giant. Let's get it done.

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