Spurs Overcome 17 Point Deficit to Demolish Hornets
At the end of the first half, the New Orleans Hornets received a standing ovation from their fans after playing a nearly flawless half of basketball. From the way they played the rest of the game, it appears New Orleans thought the game was already over.
The Hornets led 61-44 and were on fire, shooting nearly seventy percent from the field. The second half was a completely different story as the Spurs outscored New Orleans 65-34 on their way to a 109-95 victory. The loss was the first for the Hornets at home and dropped New Orleans to two games behind San Antonio for the Southwest division lead.
It was a Big Three that led the way for San Antonio, with Richard Jefferson taking the place of Tony Parker in this game. Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 23, while Tim Duncan and Jefferson chipped in 21 and 19, respectively. For the Hornets, David West led six players in double figures with 23 points.
The game turned in the second half as Gregg Popovich started the half with a three guard lineup. In the previous meeting, the Hornets also got out to a big advantage but San Antonio clawed back in the game due in large part to a three guard lineup. It has been somewhat of a recurring theme, as in the Hornets first loss this season at Dallas, the Mavericks exposed the Hornets defense with their three guard lineup of Kidd, Terry, and Barea.
The Hornets don’t have much time to reflect on this loss as they have to travel to Oklahoma City tonight for a game tomorrow night. If they don’t get this defense tightened up, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are going to have a field day.
Other Notes and Observations:
* Marcus Thornton is the Eli Manning of NBA players. Rarely do you ever see a player look so spectacular on one play and so clueless on the next. I can understand Monty’s reluctancy with playing Thornton, but with the defense starting to show its true colors and Peja in Toronto, he is going to need a quick scoring punch on some nights.
* Chris Paul is surrounded by more weapons than he has ever been surrounded by (with the exception of Team USA), but that has been both a blessing and a curse. He doesn’t control the ball as much, play as many minutes, or take as many shots, and come playoff time that might be a good thing because he will be fresh. On nights like this, however, it is difficult to watch him be so passive.
* Wasn’t David West virtually unstoppable to start the game? Why not feed him non-stop to start the 2nd half?
* Okafor was great in the first half- challenging shots and making his free throws. The second half, not so much. It was a microcosim of his season; fantastic at times and invisible at others.
* Jarrett Jack has a tendency to be wild with the ball, making bad passes in the lane and throwing long cross court passes that teammates have to jump for to keep from going out of bounds. Defensively, he is rugged and takes more charges than most point guards but he can get beat fairly easily by quick point guards.
* The Hornets were outrebounded 42-34 overall and 11-5 on the offensive glass. Okafor was to blame on several of those rebounds as he simply watched the ball instead of getting his body on Duncan (who had 5 offensive rebounds!)
* Hornets fans will most likely remember the back breaking threes by Jefferson and Ginobili, but this game was lost in the defensive paint. 52 points in the paint, and that doesn’t even include all of the points San Antonio got at the free throw line due to the Hornets soft interior defense.
* Teams have obviously started to scout Jason Smith. He has one way to score, and he is not getting wide open 17 footers from good teams. He might light it up against the bottom feeders, but he will not make any sort of impact against quality teams moving forward.
* I’m terrified for Monday’s game. Thankfully, the Hornets get Charlotte and New York at home before a rematch with San Antonio a week from today.