The Spurs beat the Hornets

Published: January 19, 2010

Facing their toughest opponent in weeks, the Hornets failed to measure up today at New Orleans Arena. The Spurs built up a big lead in the first quarter and seemed to easily answer every Hornets run until the final buzzer. Tony Parker led San Antonio with 25 points while Tim Duncan delivered 21 and 14 rebounds. David West and Chris Paul managed 18 points apiece for the Hornets. 90-97 the final score (box).

Early struggles

The Spurs were wrapping up a four-game road trip, playing their fifth game in seven days, and they were without starting small forward Richard Jefferson. Despite all that, San Antonio came out ready to play. They were excellent at both ends of the floor in the first quarter. They had the pick and roll game working to perfection, disjointing the Hornets defense and taking advantage with quick drives by Parker or kick outs and swings for open looks. Tim Duncan had his way with Emeka Okafor in the post, they crashed the boards, and they knocked down four triples.

The Hornets tried to get Peja Stojakovic going but Keith Bogans did an excellent job sticking with him around screens, rarely giving Peja a clean look. Okafor tried to get his post game working against Duncan but found himself outmatched at that end as well. David West had some success, but had to work hard for every bucket. As for Chris Paul, he was deferring to his teammates early as usual, which may not have been the best tactic this time around.

The score was 29-16 heading into the second quarter, and the Hornets were never able to dig themselves out of that hole.

Rookie report

Marcus Thornton had himself a nice game, knocking in 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting and also dropping 3 assists in 24 minutes. Didn’t take him long to make his presence felt, as he checked into the game in the second quarter and within fifteen seconds came up with an emphatic block of a Tony Parker layup. He’d have another surprising play in the fourth quarter when he won a jumpball against Tim Duncan.

Collison had a rougher time of it, getting schooled by Tony Parker in the second quarter and shooting just 1-of-5 from the field. To his credit, he played hard in the fourth quarter and was a big part of the Hornets 13-4 run that got them back within striking distance.

James Posey

He had gone 15 straight games making at least one three-pointer, but that streak ended against the Spurs. He earned his paycheck today though by grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds in 28 minutes, delivering some hard fouls, and squaring up against Tim Duncan early in the fourth quarter. That latter incident, together with some poor officiating earlier in the fourth, got the crowd riled up and back in the game.

Measuring Stick

The Spurs came into today’s game sporting a 24-15 record, and were perhaps the best team the Hornets had faced since their December 18th meeting with Denver. The result of this one was a little sobering, and makes the Hornets success earlier this month look more like the consequence of an easy schedule rather than improved play. They obviously still have a long way to go before they can be considered a legitimate playoff team.

Other observations…

  • The Hornets tried a bunch of different things to try get back in the game, shaking up the lineup, trying some zone defense, picking up the tempo, etc. It was a testament to San Antonio’s superiority that they were able to absorb all the different punches, keep their cool and execute regardless of what the Hornets were doing. Classic Spurs.
  • Decent minutes from Julian Wright, though the boxscore doesn’t really show it. He played 11 minutes, with his only poor play being an airballed jumper after he resorted to that favorite behind-the-back crossover of his. He was solid otherwise, coming up with some rebounds, running the floor and making smart passes.
  • Okafor ended up playing just 14 minutes, mostly because of foul trouble and the difficulty he had defending the pick and roll. Still, in those 14 minutes, he grabbed just 2 rebounds and could never get the better of Tim Duncan, save for an early 15-footer he was able to hit. That’s two disappointing performances from Okafor in three games now, and the Hornets have really seemed to struggle when he’s off his game.
  • Besides scoring 18 points, Chris Paul also managed with 9 assists and 4 rebounds before fouling out in the final minute.
  • Rebounding was a huge problem yet again. The Spurs won the battle of the boards, 50-38. They had twice as many offensive boards (16) as the Hornets and turned many of them into second chance points. The third quarter was especially brutal with the Spurs out-rebounding the Hornets 16-8 in the period.
  • The Hornets didn’t double Duncan much in this one, and when they did, he was easily able to pick the ball up and take his time finding an open teammate before passing it off. I would have liked to see more commitment to either the single coverage or a hard double team, rather than a weak hybrid of the two.

Hornets back at it Wednesday at the Arena, hosting the Memphis Grizzlies before taking off on a four-game road trip.

UPDATES: Mr. Kennedy’s post-game Journal report, and a couple of videos from…

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