Hornets-Spurs: Thursday News Wrap

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Published: May 15, 2008

Game 6 goes down this evening in San Antonio, with the Spurs needing a win to avoid elimination at the hands of our Hornets. Here's the usual bunch of notes, quotes and anecdotes from around the web…

Let's start it off with updates on the injuries to Tyson Chandler and David West. Here's words from Tyson himself, who blogged his ass off on NBA.com yesterday…

  • I'm feeling good. I had turf toe. I iced it, but it's gonna be alright. It was sore last night and it was hard for me to put pressure on it. But had it happened in the third quarter or even a couple of minutes earlier in the fourth, I would have been able to come back in. The pain started easing up, but at that point, we had a comfortable lead.
  • It's really sore right now, but it will be fine for tomorrow. I went in and got treatment for it this morning.
  • David's back was bothering him last night. He went in for treatment today too and got his back worked on. He's feeling better. He's a soldier. He's gonna gut it out. He did that last night and obviously, putting up 38, 14, five and five with a sore back … It's obvious he's focused and he's not gonna let anything stop him.

In the San Antonio Express-News, Mike Finger writes about Tyson's teammates ripping on him at practice yesterday…

  • To his right, Peja Stojakovic was doing a brand-new Chandler impersonation, complete with loud moans and an exaggerated look of agony on his face. To his left, other members of the Hornets were laughing and carrying on about Chandler's catastrophic-looking fall the night before.

    "The way you were acting," Hornets assistant coach Darrell Walker said, "I thought you tore up your knee."

Also from Finger's article…

  • Chandler said he could have come back to play in Game 5 if he was needed and said he expects to be ready for Game 6.

    David West, who suffered from back spasms on Tuesday, also should be ready to play tonight, Scott said.

    So with everyone healthy and set to go, Scott was asked if there was anything he could take from the game tapes from earlier in the series to use tonight.

    "Yeah," Scott said. "We can take the tape and throw it away."

Chandler sat out practice yesterday, but John Reid of the Times-Picayune tells us that David West was out there balling

  • West, whose injury appears less serious, participated in the workout that involved only shooting.

    "My back is still tight but it's loosening up," West said. "I will have to get more treatment once we get to San Antonio, and I'll get more treatment (this) morning, and it should be good then."

Moving on, here's quotes from Byron Scott and Chris Paul courtesy of Chris Colston in USA Today…

  • "We're going to do what we do," Scott said. "If you start making drastic changes now, it sends out the wrong message. It's not what we're doing. It's how we're doing it."
  • "We can't count on coming back (to New Orleans) and having home-court advantage," Paul said. "We need to close it out in Game 6."
  • Said Scott: "The best opportunity for us is really (tonight). We've got to look at it that way. We've got a chance to close out the defending champions. Obviously we know it's going to be a very, very tough game to do that, especially in San Antonio."

Teddy Kider's got a bunch of notes in the Times-Picayune, with the lead in about Peja's contributions in Game 5

  • "You may look at the box score or something and say his production is limited, but with Peja out there on the floor, if they're staying glued to him, that's how David West gets 38 points," Hornets point guard Chris Paul said. "It's all about winning right now, so Peja's out there on the court. Whether he takes a lot of shots or misses or whatever, as long as he's out there, it creates mismatches."

    Stojakovic has also been a key figure on defense, where he recently has been guarding Spurs guard Manu Ginobili. And in Game 5 he had 11 rebounds, his highest total in this year's postseason.

    "We know how to win even when he's not scoring big points, but also he had 11 rebounds," Hornets Coach Byron Scott said. "He did a pretty good job on Ginobili as well. So his all-around game was pretty good last night."

Also at the above link is a brief piece about Jeff Bower finishing third in NBA Executive of the Year voting…

  • Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower finished third in Sporting News' NBA Executive of the Year race. Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics finished first with 18 of a possible 47 votes, while Mitch Kupchak of the Los Angeles Lakers received 14 votes and Bower 12.

After their team lost on Tuesday, the fans in San Antonio were pretty depressed. The following from Richard Oliver in the Express-News…

  • The impact of it was felt in more than playoff brackets and headlines. Stung Spurs fans were left with an unfamiliar angst, balancing stubborn faith with lingering doubt.

    At Fatso's Sports Garden on Henderson Pass, server Luan Farino didn't have time to watch the game unfold on any of the facility's numerous television screens late Tuesday. But she knew exactly what was happening.

    "You could sense the somber mood the last few minutes," Farino said. "It kind of got really quiet. When it came down to the Spurs trying to catch up, hope was gone. People just started to leave."

Over at Fox Sports, Randy Hill lists a few ways the Spurs can survive tonight and force a Game 7. He also has thoughts on the battle between Duncan and Chandler in the series…

  • Checking the results of the first five games of this series, it should be noted that Duncan has averaged 11 points per game in the three road defeats and 19 in the two home victories. To their credit, the Spurs did attempt to get Timmy involved during Game 5 in New Orleans, but his series-high 18 field-goal attempts resulted in only five makes and 10 points.

    The main reason for Duncan's struggles — and the Spurs' difficulty in getting their role players quality opportunities from 3-point range — is 7-foot-1 Hornets center Tyson Chandler. Chandler, the former No. 2 overall pick straight out of Dominguez High in Compton, has been able to guard Duncan with only occasional double-team assistance. That's pretty rare and fairly damning; without a second defender arriving in Tim's work space, the Hornets have no reason to rotate over and enable the Spurs to make the extra pass that leads to a wide-open three.

Over at Hornets.com, Jim Eichenhofer has key questions ahead of Game 6

  • I'm curious to see what effect Game 5 will have on the Hornets. I wonder if by responding the way they did Tuesday, they cleared a mental hurdle against the Spurs. Nearly everyone was again questioning the legitimacy of New Orleans after losses in Game 3 and 4, but the Hornets showed that there is little reason for them to be intimidated by the Spurs. I think the best approach tonight would for them to use this as a way to play more relaxed and not overreact to mistakes or if they get behind on the scoreboard early in Game 6.

At long last, Julian Wright updates his playoff blog over at Hornets.com…

  • When we go back to San Antonio for game 6, we need to make sure we are more focused. I think they really worked at getting into our heads with some of their defensive tactics and different things they through at us. We have to make sure we don't get rattled by those things and need to expect them more than we did in games 3 and 4.

Jim Eichenhofer gives us Byron Scott's post-practice Q&A yesterday. Here's a slice…

  • Q: Has it gotten frustrating for Peja Stojakovic, to not have been as productive over the past three games as he normally is?

    Scott: Well, it's always frustrating when you've got a (defender) hanging all over you, grabbing, holding and not allowing you to run or do what you're capable of doing. But (Bruce) Bowen does that to most of the guys he guards. Peja's been in this league a long time, and he understands that we're up 3-2, and that's the most important thing.

Hornets Hype be loving them some Mo Pete…

  • Since B. Scott is a big proponent of going with the guys who are playing well, Mo-Pete has steadily got more and more time in the playoffs, and is almost always on the floor in crunch time. Always considered a good defender, Peterson has been outright vicious this series, locking down on Ginobili and aggressively rebounding.

In the Express-News, Mike Monroe tells us the NBA's ruling after reviewing the double delay of game call that got Gregg Popovich all worked up in Game 5…

  • An NBA spokesperson said executive vice-president for basketball operations Stu Jackson confirmed that Popovich's interpretation of the rule about foul line access was correct, but that [referee Joey] Crawford was within his rights to make a judgment call that players from both teams had contributed to the delay of the game.

Pop did of course get a technical for arguing that call, and according to Manu Ginobili, the Spurs were a little too focused on the officiating for the rest of the game…

  • "We talked too much," Ginobili said. "We've just got to let Pop do that. We know he's going to get a technical. He's going to get upset. He's going to talk to them. But it's his job. We've just got to be more focused on playing, not say a word, and keep fighting."

    Popovich agreed with his erstwhile sixth man about the players' occasional preoccupation with the referees, but put the focus on the Hornets' stellar defense and the onus on his team to respond more appropriately.

    "That game had to do with New Orleans' defense in the third quarter," Popovich said, while agreeing the Spurs wasted too much emotion on perceived injustice. "I know everybody wants to try and make it something different, or pick at this that. But they deserve credit for that. They did it very well."

That was nice and diplomatic of Pop, but as Buck Harvey notes in today's Express-News, that wasn't all the Spurs head coach had to say…

  • Popovich did enough talking for all of them in New Orleans, and that's nothing new. He has worked the refs during games for a decade.

    But then came Wednesday. Composed and sarcastic-free in front of a media group, Popovich sounded as he never has.

    "You know, Timmy took 18 shots and shot one free throw," he said. "They (the Hornets) shot 13 free throws in the third quarter, and we shot zero. I thought we were at the rim as much as they were. So we have got to figure out how to get to the line."

Some Spurs fans aren't blaming the officiating for Tuesday's loss. They're blaming unlit candles

  • At Papa Jim's Botanica, prayer candles are sold to help you lose weight, to stop your man from fooling around, to get money, and even you help the Spurs win.

    Staff says they work.

    "Yesterday, we didn't turn on our candles, and we feel guilty for that,” Gomez said.

From Jeff McDonald in the Express-News

  • This represents somewhat unfamiliar terrain for the Spurs, who have faced 10 elimination games since Tim Duncan arrived in 1997. They are 4-6 in those games.

    Last year, on the way to a fourth NBA title, the Spurs never flirted with elimination. The last time the Spurs played a game that could have knocked them from the postseason was Game 7 of the 2006 Western Conference semifinals against Dallas, a game the Mavericks won in overtime.

    "The bottom line is the better team wins in a seven-game series," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I've always said that. Whoever wins this series, it will be because they are the better team."

Sheldon Mickles has words from Morris Peterson ahead of tonight's Game 6…

  • "I think if we go in and play like it's a Game 7, we'll be all right," said Peterson. "We all know that we have a chance to do something real special.

    "Everyone in this locker room knows what we have to do (tonight). It's just a matter of responding to the challenge.

From the Project Spurs blog

  • Should Spurs fans feel confident going into game 6? F%*K NO!

Matt Moore has five things to keep an eye on over at FanHouse. Here's the last of those things…

  • The Spurs aren't going to panic. Not for a second, not for a heartbeat, not for a half a moment. They're at home, they've proven they can not just defeat, but manhandle this team at home. They have Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. They have Robert Horry, they have Bruce Bowen, they have Greg Popovich. So I would expect a focused, determined Spurs team tonight. On the other side, I doubt the Hornets will come in with as much lofty headed swagger as last time. They've seen how dangerous the Spurs are at home, and they'll be ready to go full speed to go for the kill. This one might end up being one for the ages. Or it could be a Spurs blowout. They are at home after all, and it would appear that no other analysis is needed in these playoffs.

David Thorpe has the usual lengthy game preview over at ESPN, and he's expecting a Spurs win tonight…

  • This season New Orleans has been terrific when the pressure's on to win, but will the Hornets sense the incredible opportunity they have in Game 6 to take advantage of the older and slower team after just one day of rest? CP3 may be the biggest competitor (other than Kobe) left in these playoffs, so my guess is yes, they'll be ready. But so will the Spurs.

Fuzzy bullets for the big finish…

Alright, I'm done for now. Tip tonight is 8p.m. Central. Game is on ESPN. Back later with a game thread.

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