The Hornets beat the Spurs

Nothing short of a huge, massive and colossal win by the Hornets at the Arena tonight. They stood up to the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, refusing to be pushed around and bullied out of the game. The result was an emphatic blowout victory, which ties the season series between the teams at two apiece.

Chris Paul vs. San Antonio

Notes from section 305…

  • Final score was 100-75. Linkage: recap | box score | standings
  • Gotta give it up to David West first and foremost. First game back from that ankle injury and he drops 29 points on 14-of-22 shooting, while also adding 10 rebounds and 3 assists just for gits and shiggles.

    There was a scary moment when he hobbled off the court and down the tunnel late in the third quarter. It seemed to me like it was his left ankle bothering him, although it was his right ankle that kept him out the past three games. West shook it off though and reentered the fray before the end of the third. Not only that, but he came up with some big plays the rest of the way.

    West was doing it at both ends of the floor tonight, too. His defense was solid, both on and off the ball. Couldn't have asked for more out of him tonight.

  • Chris Paul was phenomenal tonight. 26 points (12-19 FGs), 17 assists, 3 steals, 3 turnovers. His midrange jumper has become as reliable as a Stojakovic free-throw. He was pulling the trigger right from the start of this one. Great to see. We need him looking to score from the tip against the top-tier teams.
  • Tony Parker had a pretty good shooting night, too, scoring 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Pity he only had 4 assists though. He had trouble guarding Chris, mostly because we kept setting picks for CP at the top of the key, and Parker either ran right into them or chose to go underneath, leaving Chris open for the jumper each time.

    It's kind of like pick-your-poison with Chris though. Try go over the top of those screens and dude is gone to the basket. Try trap him with the screen defender and he'll find whoever's rolling or fading for an open shot.

    I'd like to take this opportunity to once again thank Milwaukee, Atlanta and Utah. You guys rock.

  • Of course, the Spurs decided to try a little of Bruce Bowen defending Chris after he scored on three consecutive trips against Parker early in the third quarter. As you'd expect, Bowen started out playing CP close and physical, then resorted to playing him dirty.

    5:15 left in the third and Chris almost loses his handle, dives on the floor to recover the ball, and tries to get a pass off. He finally throws it away with Bowen standing over him, and as he scrambles to get back up Bruce puts a knee in his chest.

    I'm sure some Spurs fans will call it an accident, but from what I saw then and in the replays — and taking into account Bowen's reputation for doling out cheap shots — it looked like an intentional hit.

    But the call went against Chris Paul. Apparently the officials didn't appreciate the vicious way he attacked Bowen's knee with his chest, while simultaneously decapitating Tim Duncan and saying bad things about Eva Longoria's latest movie.

    Damn right that's a foul.

  • Although Bowen got away with the wrestling move, he'd probably take it back if he could, because the crowd was really into it after that. For the rest of the game, the loudest boos I've ever heard rained down on the Spurs every time they had possession, while every defensive stop and score by the Hornets was met with massive appreciation from the fans.
  • Speaking of which, there were 16,319 folks in attendance tonight, several of whom were probably named Brian. Thanks for coming out, everyone. See you Friday.
  • Tim Duncan scored 24 points and grabbed 11 boards; similar numbers to David West. Walking out after the game, Toney Blare asked me if I ever thought the day would come when David West was canceling out Tim Duncan.

    No, I didn't, but I'm glad to be proved wrong.

  • To be fair, this would have been a much different game if the Spurs dropped a few of those open looks they were getting in the first half. They just couldn't get any points from the perimeter, finishing 2-of-18 from downtown. We doubled Duncan every now and then, and I thought our rotations off that were decent but not spectacular. If Manu Ginobili or Michael Finley or Robert Horry could hit a few threes between them (they were a combined 0-of-11), we might have been in trouble.
  • Ginobili had a pretty poor game overall. Morris Peterson started out guarding him, then Julian Wright had a go, then Bonzi Wells got the assignment for most of the second half. Mo did a solid job, JuJu was active but not really effective, while Bonzi was just incredible. I had no idea he was so good at defending wing players. He stays in front, bodies up and doesn't gamble too much. I'm looking forward to playing the Rockets again with Bonzi there to shadow Tracy McGrady.
  • Although JuJu didn't have the best night defensively, he was definitely an asset out there again tonight. He finished with 4 points and 7 rebounds in 18 energetic minutes. He pulled off a sweet spin move in the lane late in the second quarter, freeing up enough space to drop a jumper over a faceless Spur. Such flashes of brilliance are becoming a frequent occurrence for the rookie.
  • The Spurs shot 7-of-17 from the free-throw line, and we out-rebounded them 45-27.
  • I'll give some love to Melvin Ely after his performance tonight. He'd been nothing short of woeful lately, and it was more of the same when he checked in midway through the first quarter and promptly got scored on and blocked by Duncan within twenty seconds.

    But dude pulled his finger out after that and gave us some nice minutes. He finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 hard fouls. His help defense was surprisingly good, and although he still refuses to pass much out of the low block, it ain't so bad when he shoots 3-of-5 on the night and only turns it over once in 15 minutes.

  • With Bonzi and West back, Chris Andersen and Rasual Butler were banished to the inactive list for the evening. I could easily be wrong (really, it happens sometimes), but methinks that's Rasual's first inactive trip this season. Hmm.
  • Tyson Chandler: 4 points (1-2 FGs), 10 boards and 2 blocks in 29 minutes. Not bad. He was bitching a little at the refs again tonight though. He often has good reason to do so, but there's absolutely nothing to be gained from arguing calls, especially when you're playing a respected team like the Spurs. A few weeks ago I thought Tyson had turned a corner and risen above the bitching, but I guess not.
  • Peja Stojakovic wasn't a massive factor out there tonight. He finished with 9 points on 4-of-9 shooting. The Spurs were looking to shut him down, and that was all peachy with Paul and West scoring at will.
  • After the Spurs waved the white flag and took their big guns out with about five minutes left in the game, Byron Scott promptly pulled his own starters. Just thought I should mention that, since it doesn't always happen.
  • Halftime show: The Chicago Bucket Boys, all wearing Julian Wright jerseys. Great stuff. Crowd loved it.
  • Play of the game? A couple of Chris Paul plays spring to mind. He had this move midway through the second quarter where he dove in the lane and seemed to fake a pass for an alley-oop before banking it home. I haven't seen the replay of that one yet, but whichever Spur was defending the lane got owned on that fake.

    I think the play that really sealed it tonight though was Chris' steal with 6:24 left in the fourth. We were up 15 at the time, and West had just turned it over. CP ripped it away from Horry though on the outlet, then had to chase it down at midcourt and fend off Parker to keep possession. Amazing skill, speed, and determination all in one play. That theft led to a miss by West, an offensive rebound by Ely, and then a 13-foot baseline fade by West. That killed off any fight left in the Spurs.

Okay, great win but no time to dwell on it. The LA Lakers are in town on Friday, and those crazy fools are atop the Western Conference right now. Gonna be a tough one.

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