The Spurs beat the Hornets; Hornets-Nuggets set for Round 1

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Published: April 16, 2009

Final score in this, the final game of the regular season, was 105-98 after overtime. The result, coupled with the Rockets loss to the Mavericks in Dallas, means the Hornets fall to the 7 seed and will face the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

Before we flip completely to playoff mode, let me throw out a few thoughts on the Spurs game:

  • Tyson Chandler returned from that ankle injury and looked pretty good out there. He played just 20 minutes (all in the first half), scored 10 points and grabbed 3 rebounds. His explosiveness wasn’t quite there, but he was still able to crush a few oops and challenge guys in the lane. I never once noticed him hobbling on that ankle.
  • Perhaps the best measure of Tyson’s contributions can be drawn from looking at Tim Duncan’s performance tonight. Timmy played 16 minutes in the first half (all of those minutes coming while Chandler was on the floor), and managed only 5 points (1-of-3 shooting), 5 boards and 2 assists with 3 turnovers. Not having to worry about Tyson in the second half and OT, Duncan played 18 minutes and managed 15 points (6-of-8 shooting), 14 rebounds, 4 assists and only one turnover.
  • Some folks might want to criticize Byron Scott for playing guys heavy minutes tonight (47+ for West and CP, 41+ for Rasual and Peja). I can understand that, and it’s definitely not ideal, but I’m glad we went all out to get the win. I’d rather we play tough like that and lose than just sit back and get blown out.

  • The struggles of Peja and Rasual continue. They were a combined 6-of-19 shooting tonight for a total of 15 points. I recall Peja getting some wide open looks but he wasn’t able to hit. Not the best time of the season for our shooters to be slumping.
  • David West and Chris Paul were warriors once again. 34 points (15-of-24 FGs) and 7 boards for West; 26 points (9-of-21 FGs), 14 assists, 7 boards, 2 steals and 1 turnover for CP. I often read back over my recaps and feel bad that I didn’t talk more about the contributions our All-Stars made. Fact is they both come through with great performances about 95 percent of the time; it’s almost a given that they play well. Whether the Hornets win or lose though usually depends more on the supporting cast playing well. Tonight we got little from our shooters and the Spurs reserves outscored ours 25-13. That adds up to a loss more often than not.
  • Hilton Armstrong was a healthy inactive. What are the chances he fails to make Byron’s playoff roster?

Looking forward to reading lots more observations from this one in the comments. I didn’t jot down my usual notes during the game as I was busy liveblogging over at TrueHoop, so I’m sure there’s quite a bit I missed.

Quick first thoughts on a Hornets-Nuggets playoff series

I’m thinking along the same lines of thekourt in the game thread comments:

…this might have been the best possible set of results for us. We are the 7th seed, but we’re on a side of the bracket away from LA, Utah, and Houston, three teams we do not play well. Our first series will be against Denver, a team we can handle and that has no successful playoff experience (and hasn’t for years). Billups can’t guard Paul at all. If we win, we play either a depleted and tired SA team, or a Dallas team that we own. Apart from the fact that we have to be road warriors, this is a very winnable path to the West finals.

I’ll leave the in-depth statistical analysis and comparisons of the Hornets and Nuggets to Ryan and At The Hive, but here are a few other things to consider:

  • We were 2-2 against the Nuggets this season, with Tyson missing all of those games. We beat the Nuggets 105-100 in Denver on November 27; they were fully healthy. We lost 100-105 in Denver on January 3; again, the Nuggets were fully healthy. On January 28 we beat the Nuggets 94-81 in New Orleans; both Carmelo Anthony and David West missed that game. On March 25, the Nuggets beat us at the Arena, 101-88; both Nene and Peja Stojakovic missed that game.
  • In three games against the Nuggets this season, Peja averaged 20.7 points on 56 percent shooting, 50 percent from three. The numbers he put up against the other six playoff teams in the West this season pale significantly in comparison to those. You can see them all here.
  • Should be some good storylines with ex-Hornets J.R. Smith and Chris Andersen playing major reserve roles for the Nuggets. Will they try to do too much against their old team, or will they make Byron and Bower regret getting rid of them?
  • A comment from Nuggets blogger Jeremy Wagner during the TrueHoop live blog earlier this evening: “As a Nuggets fan I would much rather see Dallas than New Orleans. With Chandler back, even if he is not 100%, they scare me much more than the Mavs.”

The date and time of Game 1 has yet to be announced. I believe the playoff schedules are released tomorrow afternoon some time, and we’ll post them up here as soon as we get word.

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