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The Hornets beat the Spurs

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Published: December 18, 2008

Electric times at the Arena tonight. I hadn’t felt that buzz since the playoffs last May. The crowd was into it from the opening tip, went nuts when Chris Paul claimed a piece of history, and somehow found an even higher pitch when the Hornets made that kick-ass run down the stretch.

Let’s dive right into bullet mode:

  • Our guys came up with some mighty big plays in this one. Perhaps none was bigger than the 6-0 Chris Paul winning a jump ball against the 6-6 Manu Ginobili with 24 seconds left and the Hornets clinging to a 4-point lead. There are so many things that Chris Paul shouldn’t be able to do, but he just goes ahead and does them anyway. He’ll probably cure cancer when he’s done with the basketball thing.
  • A couple more big plays came courtesy of David West late in the fourth. With Peja Stojakovic sitting this one out due to back spasms, West decided to pick up some of the slack by nailing a couple from deep. Those two buckets started a 13-0 Hornets run, turning a 7-point deficit into a 6-point lead with just over a minute left to play.
  • You want more big plays? How about all those defensive stops down the stretch? If you discount Manu’s meaningless layup right at the end, we allowed just 11 points (3 FGs, 5 FTs) in the final frame. The Hornets D was actually pretty solid throughout. Granted, the Spurs, and especially Matt Bonner, missed a bunch of open threes (9-26 3FGs), but we didn’t give them much inside. We mixed it up a lot on Duncan, sometimes doubling, sometimes playing him straight up with Tyson. Nice job too of keeping Parker and Ginobili out of the lane. Those two finished with a combined 37 points on 15-25 shooting, but a lot of their damage had to be done on jumpers, and Manu didn’t get to the free throw at all.

  • Let’s talk about the historic moment: 3:43 left in the second quarter, and Tony Parker tries to whip a pass out high from the corner. Only there’s Chris Paul and his seventeen arms getting in the way and coming up with the steal. Mark it down as 106 consecutive games with a theft, the Spurs losing a possession and Alvin Robertson’s record in one fell swipe. As mentioned, the Arena left out a roar of approval for that one, and CP took a moment to salute the crowd on the next dead ball.
  • 4 and change left in the third quarter when Chris Paul gets doubled and turns the ball over. Roger Mason breaks the other way, with Rasual Butler in hot pursuit. Rasual blocks the layup, a trailing Parker gets the rebound, but doesn’t see Rasual sneaking behind him as he goes to reset. Butler swipes it away, saves the ball back to a teammate from the sideline, then busts ass down the floor, getting the rock right back so he can hit the short jumper. The whole sequence lasted about seven seconds, and it was probably the best seven seconds of basketball Rasual Butler has ever played or ever will play.
  • Sean Marks vs. Matt Bonner. I threw up a little.
  • Byron started Devin Brown in the backcourt tonight, and also gave Antonio Daniels several minutes alongside Paul. We didn’t fare too well with those small lineups though. The Spurs played off Devin and he could never make them pay, and we didn’t really push the ball enough to make the most of Paul and Daniels on the floor together.
  • Posey’s been huge for us the past three games. He delivered 20 and 10 in Toronto, dropped 9 points in the final 8 minutes last night in Memphis, and did a little bit of everything toinght against the Spurs. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t solely responsible for keeping Manu in check, but he definitely played a big role in that. He also knocked down a big triple in that 13-0 run, and it seemed as if he was getting every rebound in the fourth quarter.
  • West and Chandler worked well together inside tonight, especially when Tyson was hedging out on those picks, leaving Timmy roaming towards the basket. West repeatedly made sure Duncan didn’t roam right to the rim for an easy two. In total, our two big bigs combined for 31 points, 20 rebounds, 5 blocks and only 4 fouls. Neither guy shot particularly well and they turned the ball over seven times, but I’m calling it a great night at the office for both of them.
  • The Spurs must have the most diverse hair in the league, what with Manu’s bald spot, Bonner’s gingerness, Mason’s mini fro type thing, Oberto’s majestic mane and Duncan’s hairline of doom. And let’s not forget Pop’s evil Santa beard, sitting there on the bench, quietly judging you.
  • Great job by the Arena crew tonight. They put on quite a show for the national TV audience. They had the movie clips and sound bytes rolling at the right times to get the crowd revved up, and I’m sure all the towel waving must have looked good on ESPN. Nice work.

So the win tonight puts the Hornets a game ahead of the Spurs and a half game ahead of the Rockets in the division. That puts us third in the West, behind the Nuggets and a small speck on the horizon that I’m told is the Lakers.

Next up, we’ve got the Kings on Saturday. We’ve found some redemption against the Bobcats and Spurs already this season; hopefully we can smack Sacto with some similar payback this weekend.

UPDATE: Hornets-Spurs video highlights:

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