Hornets-Spurs: Monday News Wrap

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Published: May 19, 2008

It's almost here. Hornets-Spurs. Game 7. Tonight at 7:30 Central. Ryan just delivered a fine post ahead of the madness. So go read that first. Then come back to this one and see what the internets been saying about the 100th Game 7 in NBA history.

To tip, Jim Eichnehofer was at Hornets practice yesterday, witnessing 47-year-old Byron Scott trying to dunk and Jannero Pargo clowning around…

  • Jannero Pargo had the entire team erupting in laughter, when his attempt at a 180 slam went haywire. When the 6-foot-1 reserve guard caught a self-pass off the floor and spun toward the basket, he couldn't get enough elevation to dunk, causing him to be stonewalled by the front of the rim. His momentum carried him backward, so as he tried to catch his balance, the result was a cartoonish stumble onto the floor. Several Hornets were so amused by Pargo's spill — he was uninjured — that they ran across the New Orleans Arena hardwood while laughing uncontrollably.

    After dusting himself off and grinning about his pratfall, Pargo engaged rookie Julian Wright in a one-on-one halfcourt game. Nothing unusual about that — except both players were only allowed to shoot left-handed. Not sure who ended up winning, but the vet was leading the rook 5-2 at last report.

    No, the Hornets aren't treating Game 7 like it's an apocalyptic moment, even though it's accurate to say this is the most important game in the team's 20-year history.

There's also a Q&A with Coach Scott at the above link. Here's one such question, and one such answer…

  • Q: David West sat out much of Saturday's practice. How did he look today?

    Scott: David looked good. We tried to monitor him. He wanted to do a little bit more than he did today, but we just didn’t feel it was worth it. He did everything (every other Hornets player did) in practice, but we just shut him down with about 10 or 15 minutes left.

Ever the crafty voyeur, Alejandro de los Rios has video of those dunk attempts by Byron and Jannero over at the Best of New Orleans Blog…

  • Before filming this shot, Scott, Pargo and Chris Paul were dunking on an 8-foot rim set up at mid-court. Also, players were generally chatty, doing trick shots and playing left-handed 1-on-1. But Bonzi Wells pointed out that, while they're loose, they're still focused.

    "Coach makes sure we stay focused on the task at hand," he said, while Byron joked around and attempted some dunks. "He's kind of playful right now but he's been all business for the most part."

Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News was also at Hornets practice yesterday. Here's a few bits and pieces from his latest article

  • One day after closing their entire practice for the first time during the Western Conference semifinals, the Hornets invited the media inside New Orleans Arena to watch the last 20 minutes of Sunday's workout. That included a full-court scrimmage, half of which featured West, who left Game 6 after re-injuring his lower back backing into a Robert Horry screen.

    On Sunday, West wasn't exactly exerting himself running up and down the floor, and didn't get involved in much of the physical play under the basket. But he showed glimpses of his All-Star form, including a play in which he grabbed an offensive rebound, spun to the baseline and banked a nifty left-handed hook through the net.

    "I'm right at 100 (percent)," West said. "These past couple days have been good. I got almost all of the soreness out of there."

  • "Walking around the city, everybody's talking about how much they want to win and how nervous they are," Paul said. "But I'm not nervous, to tell you the truth. I have the ultimate confidence."

Chris doesn't sound scared, does he? Same deal with Mo Pete and D West. These quotes courtesy of John DeShazier in the Times-Picayune

  • "We're just playing basketball," guard Morris Peterson said. "I don't think it's rocket science. It's Game 7, at home against the best team in the world. It should be fun."

    "This is it," David West added. "For us, as a basketball unit, we don't want the season to end. We've got to play the best basketball game we've played this season.

    "To get the defending champs out, we know we've got to put together the game of our young careers."

Also in the Times-Picayune, here's a few pieces from Teddy Kider's latest

  • Even if the Hornets lose, the 2007-08 season will be considered the most successful in franchise history. The team has transformed itself from a relatively obscure squad with attendance issues to a championship contender with no problems packing its arena.

    Tonight's game is the most important in franchise history because of what else it could mean. The Hornets are one win away from advancing to their first conference finals, and the team they must conquer is the defending champion, perhaps the most dominant NBA franchise of the past 10 years.

    "This is what it's all about," Scott said Sunday. "This is the ultimate. You want to have a Game 7, and you want to have it in your home building against the defending champions. So this is the ultimate challenge for us, and I think we have a lot of guys on this team that enjoy that type of challenge. So it's going to be fun."

  • "My biggest thing is just to go out and not think about [my back]," West said. "As long as there's no soreness and things like that, I'm not even going to worry about it. I'm just going to go out there and play, try to help this team advance."
  • "You could put this game in the middle of the desert somewhere," Paul said. "It's all about just who wins tomorrow. The previous six games really don't matter too much."

Tyson Chandler is confident that the homecourt advantage will see the Hornets through. This quote from a Bradley Handwerger article over at WWLTV.com…

  • "The advantage that we have is we're playing at home," Tyson Chandler said. "We've been playing great at home all year and I feel like the guys are loose and are going to come out with some great energy."

Willis Reed, former Hornets VP of Basketball Ops and no stranger to Game 7 heroics, will stay home in Ruston to watch the game tonight, but he believes the Hornets will prevail…

  • "At this point, I don't think we should try to do anything to change the routine or nothing," Reed said. "I think that they got good leadership, and I think that Coach Scott prepared them to play in big games. I think it's just a matter of letting them do what they have to go do. And I believe they will."

David Thorpe has the usual breakdown ahead of Game 7 that deserves a full read. Here's Thorpe's conclusion…

  • In the end, as hard as it is to think that this Spurs team will not even make the conference finals, it's even harder to envision New Orleans playing a bad home game. Crushing the Spurs at home for three straight times gives them tremendous confidence, much needed in a pressure packed game. Still, the Spurs are so resourceful, and they have a few guys on the bench who can make important plays at pivotal times. This game should not be a blowout, and might well exceed 48 minutes. I'm flipping my coin now, and it comes up …

    PREDICTION: Hornets win Game 7

In the Express-News, Jeff McDonald tries to figure out the Hornets homecourt advantage

  • Maybe it is an adverse reaction to all the seafood gumbo, or a paralyzing aversion to one shade of gold in particular. Or maybe it is the reverse of the Denver effect, something about the rigors of playing basketball below sea level.

    The Spurs couldn't begin to explain the cause of their sudden struggles in New Orleans.

    "No idea," point guard Tony Parker said, "especially with this team and all the years of winning championships."

Buck Harvey wants a statue, eventually…

  • If they ever build a statue of Tim Duncan outside of the AT&T Center, they should take their time.

    They should draw up some concepts, sculpt a few ideas and then step back to look for cracks. There should be a few.

    Then they should build more statues, turning the worst into rubble as they go along, until they get it right.

    Duncan should be honored the way he played.

Chris Colston of USA Today writes about the Hornets winning over the fans in New Orleans, and includes a quote from Gregg Popovich…

  • "They have some guys on the team that a lot of people didn't fight for," says San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. "A lot of people thought Peja was maybe done, with his back problems and all that kind of thing. He wasn't regarded as highly. And I don't think people were dying to get Peterson. Pargo had been kind of journeyman here and there. But they felt those guys fit their system."

Remember last week when Phil Jackson called the Spurs a better team than the Hornets? Well, he may be rethinking that statement. Here's a few more recent quotes from the Lakers coach, and one from Luke Walton…

  • "On the one hand, you've got a team that has all of the experience in the world," Jackson said. "They've been through a lot of heavy battles over the last three years with that group of guys that they are real comfortable with. … They're the oldest team in the league. That weighs a lot (in their favor) …"

    "The other side of it is you've got a very young team full of confidence and very capable and very athletic. It has a combination of driving and shooting capabilities. And David West is a great post-up player, too. But you've got those capabilities on this team that still believes they can be the best in the league. They are believers in what they can do."

    So what does it all mean?

    "You've got two teams that are both very confident, very proficient," Jackson said.

  • The inexperienced, young Hornets or veteran Spurs?

    "Inexperienced? They're in a Game 7 with the world champs right now with home-court advantage," Luke Walton interjected. "Obviously the Spurs are still the team to beat. But you can't say you'd rather play New Orleans. They've been doing it all year. They blew out Dallas, which is a great team, and now they're in a Game 7 with the champs. So there's no way I'll say we have a better chance against one or the other team."

Over at FanHouse, Brett Edwards thinks experience will make all the difference tonight

  • An example of experience being the deciding factor on the road in a series occurred in 2002, when the two-time defending champion Lakers had to go to Sacramento and play the Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. The less-experienced Kings looked like the better team most of the series, and might have wrapped it up earlier if not for some of Robert Horry's heroics in Game 4. With Game 7 in the Kings' building, it looked like they had a pretty good shot of ending the Lakers' quest for their third straight title. But as Rasheed Wallace would say, a, um, certain body part got tighter and tighter, and the team couldn't make shots or free throws when it mattered.

    I think we're going to see another sad group of upstarts, hands glumly on their hips, falling just short again tonight.

Not really about the basketball but I found this interesting: Over at BlackAthlete.net, a dude named Gregory Moore rips into the Times-Picayune's coverage of the Spurs-Hornets series, and especially David Gladow's Top 10 Spurs 'questionable' plays article that was posted on NOLA.com on Friday…

  • To say that this article is good journalism under any sense of the standards for even blogging is absurd and the Times Picayune staff should be embarrassed that this even got to be posted.

    Many a journalist has been fired for shoddy workmanship and this is a definite case.

(Scroll to the bottom of Moore's article to see where he's from. You will not be shocked.)

Speaking of that Top 10 list, Mike Monroe of the Express-News asked Bruce Bowen how he felt about six of his plays being included

  • Bowen was not surprised.

    "What are you going to do?" he said. "What are you going to do?"

    Asked if his being featured as the Spurs' No. 1 basketball evildoer might take some of the heat off Robert Horry, still being vilified in Louisiana for his foul on David West in Game 6, Bowen rose to Horry's defense.

    "Seeing that some folks feel, even in this city, that Rob's play was not legit," he said, "it's really a shame when you hear that some folks here think that. Seeing the time that he's been here, and then seeing that just bothers me."

Also from that las link, we learn that Tyson Chandler had a busy weekend…

  • With three days off between games, some Hornets and Spurs had to search for ways to deal with boredom. But not New Orleans center Tyson Chandler.

    He spent the past couple of days taking care of his young daughter and has had little chance to catch his breath.

    "She kept her energy up," Chandler said. "I think she might be tougher to chase around than Tim Duncan — no disrespect to Tim Duncan."

Quotes from the AP game preview

  • "You've just got to be very focused, knowing that you can't blink, that you can't let the other team get on a run, get confident on a run," said Ginobili, who made six 3-pointers in Game 6. "It's going to be a really tense game with a lot of adrenaline. Fans are going to be going nuts. So it's going to be a very fun game to play."
  • "We'll see if we thrive on pressure after Monday's game. We still don't know," Ginobili said. "It's a great test for both teams. A lot of pressure, as I said before, and we're going to try to be the ones that respond to that pressure the best way."
  • "I don't want today to be our last practice," Scott said Sunday. "I don't want tomorrow to be our last shootaround. I just felt I needed to let them know and hopefully they feel the same way."

48 Minutes of Hell delivers a look back at the first six games of this "schizophrenic" series, and offers some thoughts for Game 7…

  • Obviously the guy to keep your eye on is West. I don't even know if West is going to play (giving the importance of the game, I bet you he gives it a shot), but if he can't remain calm out there, it could lead to unnecessary personal fouls, or even technical fouls, while possibly infecting the rest of the team with a certain unsteadiness. This game will be physical, and unlike games 1 through 6, I think it will be close. The Hornets needs to make sure that fouls late in the fourth, even if they are questionable calls, do not cause them to lose focus.

Another one from FanHouse: Matt Moore lists seven things to keep an eye on tonight, and gets you hyped in the process…

  • Enjoy this one. This has been the best series in the playoffs by far, and may be the best for the rest of the way as well. Two brilliant point guards, two All-Star power forwards, veteran shooters, rookie Julian Wright, journeyman Ime Duoka, the best coach in the NBA versus the NBA Coach of the Year, drama, the city of New Orleans as a backdrop, and Peja heads on a stick. It's Game 7, there's no next game for one team. Win or go home. This is why we watch.

I believe it was 9 out of 10 cats over at ESPN that predicted the Spurs to win this series. Ahead of tonight's deciding game, 4 out of 6 ESPN analysts are now picking the Hornets to win. Let's quote John Hollinger, who was the only guy who believed in the Hornets from the start…

  • Game 7 probably will be closer than the past three games in Nawlins, but the Hornets will still win.

    Though San Antonio's experience is an advantage, the other historical factors — home-team dominance in Game 7, road teams' inability to win a series after losing the first two, etc. — all favor the Hornets, and they've won going away in five of their six postseason home games.

Quick hitters. Millions of them…

And finally, with thanks to Bill Woten, author of the book Game 7: Inside the NBA's Ultimate Showdown, we've got a whole bunch of stats and notes about the Spurs and Hornets in Game 7's. Very cool stuff. You can even find answers in there to a couple of the trivia questions we posted earlier. Because we're nice, we'll give you the stat sheet in two formats: GIF | DOC. If you're not sure of the difference, the first link is your best bet.

Thanks again to Mr. Woten for all that. Go check out his site and buy multiple copies of his book.

Back later with a game day thread. 

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