Game On: Spurs @ Hornets

Published: November 28, 2010

San Antonio Spurs (13-2) at New Orleans Hornets (12-3)

Offensive Efficiency Ratings: Hornets 106.6 (15th) Spurs 111.5 (2nd)

Defensive Efficiency Ratings: Hornets 100.6 (2nd) Spurs: 103.3 (9th)

The Spurs and Hornets battle for first place in the Southwest division today as the Hornets play their first home game in over a week. The Hornets come into the game at 12-3, having just snapped their two-game losing streak Friday night against the Blazers. That same night the San Antonio Spurs lost their first game since the Hornets went into San Antonio and defeated them 99-90 back on October 30th.

Before Friday nights loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the Spurs were the hottest team in the league, winning twelve straight and outscoring opponents by an average of nearly 9 PPG over that span. Manu Ginobili has started off the season remarkably well, averaging a career high 21.5 PPG while shooting a career high 47.4% from the field and 40.4% from three.

Another streak is guaranteed to come to an end as well today as the Hornets enter the game as the last undefeated team at home and the Spurs are the last undefeated team on the road. Defensively, the Hornets have yet to allow 100 points in a game at home (except to Cleveland- 42) and on the offensive end,  are shooting nearly 48% from the field on their home rims.

What the Hornets Need to Do on Offense:

Point blank, the Spurs do not have an answer for Chris Paul or David West. In their first meeting CP3 scored 25 points and generally controlled the flow of the game. The Spurs don’t have the athletes needed to get the ball out of Chris Paul’s hand and rarely trap CP3 coming off the pick and roll. As for David West, nobody on their roster can cover him straight up. When Tim Duncan is on West, look for him to fade out to the perimeter to draw Duncan out. From there he can either shoot the mid range jumper off the pick and pop or drive on Duncan when the Hornets isolate him on the wing or at the top of the circle.

While the two Hornets mainstays both had efficient games last time out against the Spurs, only two other Hornets scored in double figures- Willie Green (12) and Marcus Thornton (17). While Willie Green figures to play a big part again, Marcus Thornton’s minutes have bee drastically reduced since the October 30th meeting when he played thirty. Recently, he has been given spot minutes and has been a part of the Hornets three guard lineup, but there is no guarantee he will play today.

Thornton’s 17 points were huge last time and there is no question New Orleans would have lost that game without them. San Antonio’s defense is not what it used to be, but it can still lock up and get a series of stops in short bursts. When the Hornets were dragging offensively early in the fourth quarter and were in danger of giving up the lead, Thornton stepped up big by either assisting on or scoring 4 of the 5 baskets New Orleans scored before CP3 re-entered the game. If Thornton doesn’t fill that role tonight, somebody else will have to step up.

What the Hornets Need to Do on Defense:

This is where the game will be won or lost for the Hornets tonight. New Orleans comes into the game first in the NBA in points allowed, giving up just 91.1 PPG and allowing teams to shoot just 43% from the field. Meanwhile, the Spurs enter third in the league in scoring at 107.1 PPG and shoot nearly 47% from the field. In their first game, the Hornets did a fantastic job on the Spurs until San Antonio went on their fourth quarter run.

New Orleans played Tim Duncan straight up for the most part and limited him to just 7 points on 2 of 10 shooting. Manu scored 23 points but was just 2 for 11 from the three-point line, which as Joe documented in his latest post, three-point defense has been one of New Orleans’ biggest strengths this year. The third man in San Antonio’s Big Three, Tony Parker, was fairly silent as well, scoring just 13 points, and more importantly, only got to the free throw line three times.

The Spurs were actually most effective when Duncan and Parker were out of the game in the fourth quarter. With a lineup of George Hill, Gary Neal, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, and Dejuan Blair the Spurs went on a 28-13 run that reduced an 18 point lead down to 3 with just over two minutes to play. That lineup gave the Hornets problems, much like the Dallas small ball lineup did, because it had multiple ball handlers on the court that were able to get out on the break off of Hornets misses or penetrate the lane on half court possessions. If that happens again, expect to see a lineup with CP3, Jack, and Willie Green all on the court at the same time.

Lastly, the Hornets need to control the defensive boards against San Antonio. Of primary concern are Dejuan Blair and Tim Duncan, who average a combined 5 offensive rebounds per game. In the last meeting the Spurs ripped down 11 offensive rebounds, but that is not bad if you take into consideration that they missed 52 shots. Another defensive effort like that should result in another Hornets victory and a spot atop the Southwest division standings.

Gameday Banner

Once again, the fabulous Gameday banner has been provided by Darius Ejkiewicz. Amazing work.

Vegas Zone

The Hornets are favorites, but it is close as Vegas only gives them a 1 point edge in this game against San Antonio. Remarkably both teams come into this game an identical 9-5-1 against the spread this season. The over/under is 194, which means Vegas expects this game to be a lower scoring game, which should favor the Hornets.

71% of those betting are taking San Antonio +1 and 71% are taking the under in this game as well. I agree with one of those as I expect both teams to come out kind of lackadaisical in this Sunday afternoon game, with the Hornets winning an ugly game 96-91.

NBA 2K11 Sim

And of course the 2K Sim completely disagrees with me.

Pre- Game/ In-Game

Chat it up right here during the game. Hornets go for division lead as the Saints fans root for Ravens and Packers victories as well. Hopefully by night fall, New Orleans sports fans will have two division leaders.

New Orleans Sports Joke of the Day

Guy #1: I think I am going to get make a Fathead of the LSU football coach and sell it to people so they can stick that on the side of their car?

Guy #2: Why do you think people would buy that?

Guy #1: Who wouldn’t want their car to have Les Miles on it?


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