Game 7 Aftermath: The Final News Wrap

By:
Published: May 20, 2008

So the Spurs came up big and got the Game 7 win over our Hornets here in New Orleans last night. Four losses in five games to end your season is tough to swallow, but it was a great ride nonetheless. For the last time this season, here's your news wrap…

We'll open it up with John DeShazier of the Times-Picayune

  • Destiny smiled at the Hornets one final time Monday night at the New Orleans Arena.

    This time, though, she had a front tooth missing and a couple of cavities in the back — which is about as pretty as it got for the Hornets in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, a 91-82 loss in which San Antonio finally quieted the Hornets, their fans and their most successful season.

  • "Tremendous team," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said of the Hornets, after finishing with 16 points and 14 rebounds. "They're young, they're incredibly talented. They have an unbelievable leader in Chris Paul.

    "A lot of credit to those guys. Just a tremendous team."

  • "I don't think there's any doubt their time will come," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They were really something else, and we were very fortunate."

Marc Stein at ESPN.com

  • It took until the final game and 17th day of this second-round series for the heartbroken locals to get their first glimpse of them, but the execution masters from the Alamo City duly arrived for this Game 7, snuffing out the Hornets and their storybook season with a 91-82 victory that sends San Antonio into a Western Conference finals showdown with old friends Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson.

    It was a prototypical performance from the Spurs' Uglyball manual. It was the sort of professional clampdown that will inevitably generate widespread shrugs from folks out there that were smitten by the irresistible Chris Paul and hoping for something different: Namely CP3 dueling Kobe for a spot in the NBA Finals.

  • The win also sealed the Spurs' first-ever comebacks from series deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 … and established them as just the 14th team in league history out of a whopping 213 to win a Game 7 on the road.

John Hollinger says the long bombs made all the difference in this one…

  • What changed was a miserable 15-for-40 shooting effort by New Orleans.

    The one that will particularly haunt them is a wide-open triple in the corner by Jannero Pargo with 1:07 left that could have tied the game at 83. Instead he front-rimmed it, Tim Duncan got the rebound, and San Antonio scored on a Tony Parker jumper at the other end. The Hornets never threatened again.

    "When I got that rebound and saw JP ahead of me I was like man, lights out," Chris Paul said.

More thoughts on that miss from CP in the Baton Rouge Advocate

  • "It looked good," Paul said of Pargo's jumper. "If we had that play 10 times I'd give him the ball every time. If he wasn't for him we wouldn't have had a chance at that point."

And words from Pargo on the same thing, courtesy of Joseph Schiefelbein in the Baton Rouge Advocate

  • "Good look. I wish I had that look over again," Pargo said. "CP hit me right in the right spot. I had two guys running at me, but I had enough time to get the shot off. I felt good about it. I just left it a little bit too short… Great look. Great look. I wish I had the chance over again… But I can't do anything about it now."
  • "Frustrating," Pargo said. "We really felt we had a great shot at winning the championship. We came up short against the defending champions."

Actually, a do-over might not help much, since Pargo had missed his previous thirteen shots from that side of the floor. Henry Abbott tells it over at TrueHoop

  • Remember when Jannero Pargo missed the big 3-pointer from the left corner that would have tied it? The key word there may be "left." According to NBA.com's Hot Spots, over the last five games, Pargo was 7-15 from all areas on the right of the floor, and 0-13 from the left.

Of course, after Pargo missed that shot, Tony Parker came down and sank a dagger J to put the Spurs up 5 with 50 seconds left. Mike Monroe tells us how that play came to pass…

  • Parker was actually the second option on the play, but he ended up with the ball, and Popovich was fine with that.

    "I ran 'wedge roll' for Manu," Popovich said, "because I wanted him to get to the free-throw line, or get the ball to Tony because he's got some real big guts. He'll miss five shots in a row, but at the end of a game, he'll take a shot and make it. He's done it before.

    "He came off that pick and just knocked it down. That took it from three (points) to five. I told the team: Biggest shot of the game."

From Mike Finger in the Express-News

  • When Finley and Horry hit their shots, it was as if those were precisely the moments the Spurs had in mind when they decided the pair could help them win championships. As for the Hornets?

    "The only guy over there who has a ring is (Jannero) Pargo, and he was trying to do it all," Horry said of New Orleans' backup point guard. "You can't do that."

Let's back it up for just a minute, to that article from Schiefelbein in The Advocate. A couple more good quotes in there…

  • Center Tyson Chandler, always so upbeat, was red-eyed in the locker room afterward.

    "You just grow to respect the guy sitting next to you," Chandler said. "I've never myself been a part of a team like this, where every guy wants it as bad as the other guy, and every guy is willing to put in the work.

    "When it comes to an end, it's just tough to accept. It's over. That guy may not be here next year, and that's hard to swallow."

  • "You play all year long," Stojakovic said. "You practice. A lot of things go through your mind, and everything ends in one game. It's very tough. But we can only be proud of ourselves."

Jim Eichenhofer wraps it up over at The Official…

  • With a chance to advance to the conference finals for the first time in the team's 20-year history, New Orleans played perhaps its poorest offensive game of the postseason. The Hornets were respectable at the defensive end against the defending champions, but a major offensive letdown resulted in a 40.2 percent night from the field. Give San Antonio credit for doing a great job of limiting New Orleans' transition game and forcing the Hornets to work for every basket — the first time that happened in the four series games played in the Big Easy. But if the Hornets choose to watch the film of this game, they will rue the stream of open shots they missed — looks that seemed to find the bottom of the net for the vast majority of the 2007-08 season.

    "We felt we played solid enough defensively," said David West, who went 8-for-19 and scored a team-high 20 points. "We just hit a bad spurt where we couldn't make any baskets."

From John Schuhmann over at NBA.com

  • Chalk one up to experience. Or chalk it up to a Spurs system that's meant to win playoff games. San Antonio doesn't win pretty. They made just four shots in the final quarter tonight, but that's all they needed.

Over at Pounding the Rock, Matthew Powell also chalks this one up to experience…

  • The Spurs experience wasn't evident in the quality of their play, but it was obvious in how they played. The Big Three combined to shoot 18-53 with nine turnovers, but they played energetic and determined basketball all night. They never looked worried or doubtful. Was it arrogance? No, it was knowing the danger and futility of doubt.

    The Hornets, meanwhile, seemed to linger on the fringes of the game, like they expected their youth, exuberance, and the fact that 99% of NBA fans were rooting for them to be enough.

From Peter Finney in the Times-Picayune

  • "The answer for us was defense," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said. "We changed defenses more tonight to keep them off balance. And I think it helped us."

    "San Antonio is a class act," said Hornets Coach Byron Scott, who watched his team become one of the biggest surprises of the season. "That's why we aspire to be like them. Tonight some of our good shots just wouldn't fall. Tonight we gave a good team too many second chances."

    After closing out with 18 points and 14 assists, Chris Paul said he'll miss seeing "all those yellow shirts and white shirts in the stands. From now on, our sights will be on one thing: winning a championship."

    "We just didn't have an answer tonight," said David West, who started strong and finished with 20 points. "We got beat to too many rebounds and loose balls. But you've got to hand it to the Spurs. You've got to give them credit."

From Jeff McDonald in the Express-News

  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was the first to the postgame interview room Monday night. He walked to his customary seat in front of the microphone, in front of the ubiquitous blue NBA backdrop.

    Then, perhaps for the first time all night, he exhaled.

    "I'm sure glad that's over," Popovich said finally.

Also in the Express-News, Buck Harvey dedicates the series win to the Spurs head coach…

  • This one goes to Gregg Popovich.

    This one goes to the guy who complained about the refs for the first time last week. Who hacked every poor foul shooter who came within reach the last month. And who made the New Orleans media wonder if there is such a thing as a smart question.

    This one goes to someone who doesn't believe in mathematical silliness (really, only 13.2 percent of teams have ever won Game 7 on the road?). This one goes to the coach of the series who continues to eliminate coaches of the year. This one goes to Phil Jackson's spiritual opposite.

    This one?

    He beat the Hornets because they played at his pace, because he got the ball in the right places — and because he switched defenses as no one does.

X's and O's has the usual video breakdown to accompany their Game 7 recap, noting that the Spurs handling of the Hornets' double teams was key. Here's the intro from that blog post…

  • It was a different kind of Game 7 tonight between the Spurs and the Hornets. There was a nervous feeling from the start of it and instead of a confident Hornets team playing as if they were the better team (at least more talented), they played tentative and were afraid of taking the big shots until their backs were pinned against the wall. The Hornets played not to lose as opposed to playing to win.

Bits and pieces from John Reid in the Times-Picayune

  • Paul had made or assisted on 53.4 percent of his team's field goals during the playoffs, the highest percentage for any player in NBA history through the first nine postseason games of his career.

    When he fouled out with 20 seconds remaining, the crowd gave Paul a standing ovation.

  • The Hornets achieved their 13th consecutive sellout Monday with an announced crowd of 18,235, their 20th of the season. Saints Coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees and cornerback Mike McKenzie all sat in the same row near the Hornets' bench. Also among the crowd was rapper Bow Wow, who attended his second Hornets' playoff game at the Arena, and singer-producer Brian McKnight.

    Actor Forrest Whitaker sat in a courtside seat next to Hornets majority owner George Shinn, who thanked the fans for their support after the game.

    "I couldn't be any more happier for our team," Shinn said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work our way tonight, but we had a great season."

  • For the fourth time in the series, small forward Peja Stojakovic did not score in double figures. He could not avoid another bad start, missing nine of his first 12 attempts. Stojakovic had three consecutive games of not scoring in double figures before scoring 13 points last Thursday.

    Stojakovic made three of 11 shots Monday night for seven points.

  • Before Monday's game, white T-shirts were placed on every seat at the Arena.

    In Games 1 and 5, the Hornets issued gold T-shirts to every fan.

    "We switched because there was no gold T-shirts left in the country, so we switched to another color," said Matt Biggers, the Hornets' vice president of marketing. "We were considering doing it anyway."

J.E. Skeets ain't happy about that last bullet…

  • Bah! You were considering doing it anyway? Well, that's why the Hornets lost then! Rule #472 of NBA Playoff basketball: Don't ever mess with lucky laundry. Ever. Everyone knows that.

Also from Ball Don't Lie, here's a few thoughts from Kelly Dwyer

  • Stojakovic's run of good health this season seems more like a fluke than a sign of things to come, and the Hornets would be wise to dump him and the three years and 40 million bucks he has left on his contract for pennies on the dollar. It might mean the Hornets take a step back and lose a few more games this year, but it would likely be a penny-foolish and pound-wise move that would pay off eventually.
  • You can't argue with Pargo's production, points count, and he did bring them back. But he also made it so Peja, West, and even Chris Paul were a little cold down the stretch, mainly because they barely touched the ball with Pargo dominating it so much. I'm not going to blame the guy that brought New Orleans back for the loss; but had New Orleans made its run based on team ball with Paul handling things, that four-point deficit with three minutes to go would have probably turned into a Hornet victory, rather than a nine-point loss.
  • And thanks to the Hornets. To this objective observer, they were easily this league's biggest breath of fresh air in 2007-08…

    This is a squad that we assumed would win half its games, a mark they should feel proud of, and instead we're talking about New Orleans on May 20th, after a Game 7 loss to the defending champs, and treating it as a disappointment. That's a bit of a step up. And it was pretty sweet to watch.

Bradley Handwerger has conflicting quotes from Pargo and Peterson over at WWLTV.com…

  • "We were a little jittery," Hornets sixth man Jannero Pargo said. "They came out and were making shots. They made 12 3-pointers tonight. We made four. That's a lot of points right there.

    "Just experience. They've been here before. They were just taking their time and knocking down shots. We haven't been here before, were a little jittery and a little short on our shots."

    Yet, Morris Peterson refused to use that as an excuse.

    "We can make an excuse about the experience factor and things like that, but at the end of the day, we went out and played basketball," Peterson said. "We had a chance to win. That's how we're going to look at it."

In a separate article, Handwerger writes about rebounding making a big difference in Game 7…

  • The Spurs outrebounded the Hornets 51-42 and in so doing, eliminated New Orleans from the NBA playoffs with a 91-82 win. San Antonio became the third team to win on the road in the conference semifinals round of the postseason.

    "All series long, the team that dominated the boards won the games," Scott said. "Tonight, they outworked us. They ran down loose rebounds. If you give a team like that second and third opportunities, they're going to score."

A couple bullets from the game notes over at the Hornets Courtside Live Blog

  • In the 11 match-ups between the Hornets and Spurs this season, including regular and post-season games, the team that has won the battle of the board has come out on top… the Spurs have won six of the 11 games between the two teams.
  • Robert Horry played in his ninth Game 7 appearance in tonight's game, ranking him second in NBA playoff history… Bill Russell holds the record for Game 7's played with 10.

John Hollinger writes about the Hornets bench woes in the Spurs series…

  • Even on this night, the Hornets got shockingly little from the subs. While Pargo snapped out of a series-long shooting slump with his late burst, only two other Hornets got off the pine, and they combined for just one point. Overall, the bench was 6-for-19 from the floor with just one assist.

    "Terrible" was Pargo's description of the bench play in the series, and he included himself in that comment. "We didn't come to play at all. Six games, we didn't show up. That's something we've got to get better at next year."

  • Melvin Ely supplanted Hilton Armstrong as the backup center after the Dallas series, but he only made four baskets the entire series and had 11 rebounds in 80 minutes.
  • "Maybe if our bench had played better… " Scott allowed when discussing keys to the series after the defeat, and he's right.

At The Hive wraps it up. Here's a slice…

  • For all his late-game shots, General Pargo registered a team worst -10. Which to me, makes total sense. He came in, he chucked, he made a few, then chucked some more while Paul, West, and Peja all looked on without a word. Julian Wright did not play. Let me repeat that again. Julian Wright did not play. With Mo-Pete and Predrag a combined 5-18 from the floor, Julian Wright did not play. Ugh.

James Varney has a bunch of notes in the Times-Picayune, including one about the welcome Robert Horry received last night

  • As it happens, the crowd rained relatively little disgust toward Horry when he started the second period. But with 6:07 remaining, the crowd gave Hornets forward Morris Peterson a big hand when he sent Horry sprawling near the Spurs' bench as the two chased a loose rebound. And when Horry got whistled for a foul on the Hornets' subsequent possession, the crowd gave it to him in no uncertain fashion.

Some quotes courtesy of Glenn Guilbeau in the Shreveport Times

  • "Obviously, we didn't have our best stuff, but I'm very proud of this team and this organization," Scott said. "I told them I'm very proud of the way they played all season long. You don't go from not making the playoffs to winning the championship in one year. It doesn't work that way. I also told them I want them to remember how they feel right now. We're going to have some scar tissue that we'll have to learn from."
  • "The city of New Orleans, the people, they made this season unbelievably special for us," said Paul, who was called "Our MVP," on a video during a game break. "We're really upset that we lost, but I think the thing that hurts the most is, it's summer now. We don't get to hear our fans going nuts and stuff. We've got to wait a few months before we can hear all that again, and that hurts so bad."

Kids, earmuffs please. Hornets Hype ain't happy

  • Fuck the Spurs. I'm sorry. I know already how most of the Hornets blogosphere will react to this, let alone the rest of the country. But I don't care. It's my blog. I was there. And this is my opinion. My take. Two games in a row were decided by refs, when the Hornets were up 3-2. You say the Hornets lost it, but when they couldn't get a call on their OWN HOME FLOOR, you've got to be fucking kidding me.

Some excerpts from David Gladow over at NOLA.com

  • Worthy of praise was the two teams' composure. After Robert Horry's late-game foul on David West in Game 6, plenty of people speculated that this thing could become a blood bath. But there were no ugly brawls in this one. Not even close. For all the talk of bruised feelings, these teams were remarkably restrained and even respectful of one another. Much ado about nothing? When it came to the subject of Horry-gate, absolutely. The Spurs simply came out and won the game with execution.

    Honestly, that's the sort of thing you can't help but respect.

  • Bravo to the fans for a tremendous showing tonight. They came out LOUD and amped things up considerably throughout the night. Best of all? They didn't wait for the good things to start happening first. They initiated positive change by being intense and cheering the team on … many times before the team did anything to warrant such approval.

    I've been in louder arenas and have had my ear drums shattered at other venues, but the fact remains that after a rocky start, the fans did a wonderful job of embracing the team this year. Now, after months of empty seats and lackluster support, finally now, this team is YOUR team. Continue to embrace this team, New Orleans, as it's the best thing going in town right now.

Via TrueHoop: Interesting stuff from David Friedman over at 20 Second Timeout. He figures the scorekeepers are very generous when crediting players with assists, and cites Paul's 14 dimes last night, only 9 of which Friedman claims were legitimate. Here's his description of an "assist" by CP in the first quarter…

  • This one is so bad it is ridiculous: West received the ball from Paul at the right free throw line extended at the 4:40 mark. West pump faked Oberto off of his feet, took four dribbles, made a spin move into the paint, came to a jump stop, did an up and under move and then shot a jump hook. Seven seconds, four dribbles and multiple fakes happened between Paul's pass and West's shot! If Paul deserves an assist, then I think that West's point guard at Xavier should get one, too–he had about as much to do with West making this shot as Paul did.

Chris Colston writes about the Hornets' "growing pains" in USA Today…

  • "We've developed something special," Scott said. "Obviously we still have to add some pieces to the puzzle. But I like the direction we're going."
  • "The experiences we're getting now, we want to take advantage of it moving forward," general manager Jeff Bower said. "This is the first time going through this as a group."

    For a team that lost 43 games last season, this year must be considered a success — and a springboard to the team's goal of winning a title.

    "The one thing I want them to remember when they start working out is to remember how they feel right now," Scott said. "You have to go through some things before you can really understand how good it's going to feel when you get to the next level."

48 Minutes of Hell, always classy…

  • I want to congratulate the New Orleans Hornets. They played a fierce and fearless series and, by not underestimating the Spurs in anyway, gave us the greatest compliment of all. I look forward to seeing this team progress in the upcoming years, and if Paul doesn't have a ring or two on his finger one of these days, I'll be shocked.

The headline of Teddy Kider's article in today's T-P says it all: "Buzz Kill." Indeed. Here's Byron Scott's words from that article…

  • "The bottom line is this: We got to a Game 7 against the defending champions," Scott said. "That's a pretty good thing to say."

Over at NOLA.com, David Schexnaydre Jr. has a message for the Hornets

  • Thank you.

    Thank you for everything.

    Thank you for the magical season you just allowed us to be a part of. Thank you for refusing to believe what the experts said about you and holding yourselves to your own higher standards. Thank you for turning your critics and doubters into believers with your exciting, energetic, and unselfish brand of basketball. Thank you for exceeding expectations and never being satisfied.

    Thank you for embracing our city when our city didn't appear to be embracing you. Thank you playing hard and never wavering, whether your crowd was 18,000 or 8,000. Thank you for doing the right things, not only on the court but off of it. Thank you for being great basketball players, but even better people.

Let's get to the quick hitters…

  • Happy birthday to Julian Wright, who turns 21 today. Go get yourself drunk, young man. Looking forward to your explosion next season.
  • Vincent Thomas of SLAM magazine was man-crushing on Chris Paul ahead of yesterday's game.
  • Video: The New Orleans Hornets are masters of the elements.
  • Via Hornets Hype: The HR boards has Peja on a stick… in London.

Alright, I'm done. 34 consecutive days of these news wraps, yet it seems like only yesterday we were consumed by the madness of the playoffs. Might have been tough to keep these going through the Conference Finals, but it sure would have been fun trying.

Next time, baby.

0 comments