Hornets-Spurs: Monday News Wrap

Published: May 5, 2008

Monday morning afternoon, and it looks like some people are starting to take the Hornets a little more seriously after their 19-point win in Game 1. Let's dive in…

Kicking off with Peter Finney's words in today's Times-Picayune…

  • I now have twin-vision about a team I picked to lose to Dallas in seven: I would not be surprised if the Hornets lost to the Spurs, nor would I be surprised if they won the NBA championship.

From a dude named Andrew Munger at some university site

  • Expect this series to be shorter rather than longer and the Hornets to run up and down on the Spurs with New Orleans winning in five.

From USA Today

  • And the winner is: Chris Paul's team in seven, only because the Hornets own home court advantage.

A must-read this morning: ESPN's David Thorpe has a great run-down of Game 1 and likely adjustments for Game 2. He expects the Hornets to win tonight. Here's a few excerpts…

  • The Spurs' best action for Duncan was running a flex cut off him (a baseline cut using him as a screener) with him shaping up inside after his teammate cleared. It looks like Duncan could have been a little more greedy, trying to take up space closer to the rim. Look for that in Game 2 and beyond.
  • The Hornets are the more athletic and lively team, so it is imperative for the Spurs to devote five guys to the glass in Game 2. This might slow the Spurs' transition game, one of the areas at which they were effective in Game 1, but it will be better to forfeit that than give up easy buckets inside.
  • Paul only had 17 points and 13 rebounds, so a breakout 30-plus game for him in Game 2 is probable considering the attention West will get. If not Paul, then perhaps Stojakovic will have a big night. The Hornets have too many weapons for the Spurs to solve. So far.

Over at SI.com, Jack McCallum also has a bunch of observations from Game 1

  • The contributions of Jannero Pargo won't show up much in the boxscore — he finished Game 1 with just two points and five assists… But Pargo's play was crucial and must continue to be if the Hornets are to hold onto their advantage throughout the series. The backup guard makes his presence felt in two major ways. First, when he's in the game with Chris Paul, he usually brings the ball upcourt, relieving Paul of the drudgery of fighting ace Spurs' defender Bruce Bowen all the way up the court… Just as importantly, Pargo can play the speedy Tony Parker on the defensive end. For long stretches of the second half, Paul was able to conserve energy by playing Bowen and Brent Barry, not the major threats in San Antonio's offense.

More notes from Charley Rosen at Fox Sports

  • While Parker's stats were A-OK — 9-17, 23 points — he did have the same number of assists and turnovers (5). Even worse, with the Spurs desperately needing to hit springers to create some room for Duncan, Parker shot a measly 2-7 from mid- and long-range. In other words, his jumper is still as erratic as it ever was.
  • Bowen has to take a shot at defending West.
  • The Hornets have fooled several NBA savants (including me!) by proving that they're for real. Still, veteran teams and battle-hardened coaches are quite capable of designing and executing reactive game plans that can turn the tide.

    That's why Pop and his crew will be up late eyeballing the game video, and why Sunday's reconvening of the reigning champs will be their most important practice session of the entire season.

Um, yeah, Charley, about that last point

  • The Spurs canceled their Sunday afternoon practice at the New Orleans Arena. The team will convene for a shoot-around this morning at the arena.

Here's a bunch of notes from TNT's NBA coverage this past weekend. John Thompson interviewed Byron Scott and Chris Paul (video of that here)…

  • Paul on the fans in New Orleans: "I went to a lot of the (New Orleans) Saints game early in the season and the game (atmosphere) is crazy to see all the fans. I thought that we need these people at our games, we need this energy. Soon enough, it got like that (for us). It's been crazy ever since. The people in New Orleans really know how to support a team; we've been riding their wave to the playoffs."
  • Scott on winning Coach of the Year: "It meant a great deal because I know all the work that these guys have put into this season. To me, it's not an individual award. It's an award that the Hornets achieve. I'm just the head of this and I get to reap the benefits of being Coach of the Year."

From USA Today, here's Gregg Popovich on Chris Paul

  • "He runs an organized playground," Popovich said. "A good portion of the time Chris takes control of the basketball, and he makes a decision… He's got uncanny ability and spatial awareness to know where all his teammates are and how to get the ball to them and still be a helluva scorer."

Matthew Powell of Pounding the Rock wants to see the Spurs make one defensive adjustment in particular

  • Why isn't Tim guarding West? Yeah, I know Tim never guards the other team's best post player, but in this case I'm afraid we might need him to contend with West. Thomas is a horribly overrated one-one-one defender, Oberto is just plain horrible and Robert Horry gots a bad case of the rheumatisms. Tim's length might bother West's jump shot and he has the strength to not be pushed off his position when West lowers his shoulder on the drive.

Mike Monroe thinks having Duncan guard West in Game 2 might not be realistic…

  • Some assume the Spurs eventually will move Tim Duncan over to guard his fellow power forward.

    But that might not be as easy as it seems.

    For one thing, it puts Duncan at risk of getting into foul trouble. For another, there is still a school of thought that suggests a team's best post defender should not be on West — who likes to roam 18 feet from the rim — but instead be assigned to center Tyson Chandler.

    "You have to have a solid defender guarding Tyson to be able to get from Tyson to Chris on the pick-and-roll," West said. "I'm sure that's why they put a good defender on Tyson, to make sure they can protect the basket."

Jeff McDonald tells us what the Spurs must do to win Game 2. In a nutshell…

  • Slow West, make shots, hit the boards.

Tyson Chandler wants to keep on running

  • "We have to stick to our strengths," Chandler said. "I'm going to be physical. I'm going to be aggressive. I'm going to run the floor."

    Chandler said he wants the Hornets to emphasize the fast break as much as possible, even if it occasionally means they "run for no reason." That starts with point guard extraordinaire Chris Paul, who picked up his energy in the second half.

    "When he's pushing it," Chandler said, "that's when we're at our best."

More from Jeff McDonald, as he tells us which play in Game 1 incensed Gregg Popovich the most

  • It was one play, one lapse in a second half full of them for the Spurs. But to coach Gregg Popovich, it summed up everything that went wrong with his team in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal Saturday.

    New Orleans' David West put up a rare miss on a jumper. The rebound fell into a thicket of Spurs … and somehow into the hands of the Hornets' Morris Peterson.

    Peterson dribbled out to the corner, launched a 3-pointer and made a four-point margin seven.

Also in the Express-News, Mike Monroe writes about Bonzi's foul on Bowen in the second quarter of Game 1…

  • Bowen said he was surprised by Wells' foul.

    "I didn't see him until I got hit," Bowen said. "… I asked Tim (Duncan), 'Where did he come from?' It's a part of the game I can't control."

    A league spokesperson said there will be no further action taken against Wells.

Buck Harvey has a great, lengthy article on David West today. Highly recommended. Here's a few excerpts…

  • West stayed in school for four years, and he believes in being steady and professional, and he doesn't care that few in the country realize how good he is.
  • West heard the critiques, and some came firsthand. "I remember one NBA guy sitting me down and saying, 'At your size, you're going to have to do something drastic — either gain 40 pounds to become a Danny Fortson, or lose 30 pounds to adjust playing on the wing.'"
  • Only Amare Stoudemire compares to West and his inside-outside combination, and West is surer and smarter. Little wonder West was an All-Star this year. And with the All-Star Game in New Orleans, West should have been impressed with himself then.

    He wasn't. During a media session he saw Robinson, and West walked over, waited his turn and introduced himself. He told Robinson how much he admired him, and he met his sons.

Aggrey Sam posts some Game 1 thoughts over at SLAMonline. Here's his conclusion…

  • Maybe the Spurs just had a bad game, maybe the Hornets were extra hype for the first game of the series and maybe the fire messed up the flow of the game, but I'm now thinking the Hornets can win this thing in less than seven. As in six. Seems optimistic, but I could see them defending home court again Monday and stealing one in Texas. Also, the Suns are really bad. The Spurs are not what we thought they are.

As expected, we've got some reactions to Chris Paul losing out on the MVP award to Kobe Bryant. Tom Ziller chimes in on the fabulousness of CP3…

  • Chris Paul, basketball messiah of New Orleans, has the rapt attention of the world right now … and he's still being underrated. "He can be the best little guy ever." "He can be the best scoring point guard ever." No, no, no.

    He can be the best ever.

    There's no ceiling for Chris Paul, no limit on his eventual peak. Don't compare him to Deron Williams and Steve Nash and Isiah Thomas. If he keeps this up, we'll be weighing his abilities against LeBron and MJ.

Over at N.O. City Business, Mark Singletary is hoping the Hornets might finally give the people of New Orleans something to cheer for…

  • We have grown accustomed to hosting championship games and enjoying the celebrations. But the celebrations have always belonged to someone else. We've been cordial and encouraging, but nonetheless we have watched closely as others went home with their memories and championship T-shirts.

    We've been close, but so far — no cigar.

Bob Heist has plenty of quotes in the Shreveport Times. Here's one from David West…

  • "You can't let San Antonio get comfortable because they just have too much experience. The challenge is to do it again, keep proving yourself, because I think that's how people look at us. But we've been there all year. I think everybody is waiting for the wheels to fall off, thinking we're overachieving. But we're hungry, I can tell you that. If we go out, we're going to go out fighting. This was an important game, don't kid yourself. But it was just one."

A couple of bullets from 48 Minutes of Hell

  • Duncan: Well, he played abysmally. It didn't seem to me that they were doing a uniquely good job guarding him, just that he was missing his shots. So I'm gonna assume that'll turn around. I will say I was a little disappointed he just kind of sulked instead of trying to fight through his slump and contribute in other ways.
  • Bowen/Paul: I will say that Paul's half-flop when he and Bowen bumped was a little absurd, and a good no call. No Spurs fan should overcriticize a little flopping here and there, but if anything I wanted to see Paul stand up for himself a little more instead of looking for the foul.

Nice find by TrueHoop: a lengthy article discussing the various ways the Spurs will try to stop Chris Paul

  • The most dangerous place for the Spurs to face Paul is in transition. There are no solutions for stopping Paul when he has a head of steam with Chandler streaking toward the rim and Stojakovic sprinting to the three-point line. You want to avoid giving him easy transition layups, and you want to avoid giving him the opportunity to give his teammates confidence and the crowd energy by throwing the monster alley-oop or the kickout for the dagger three-ball. The defender in transition against Paul, typically Parker or Ginobili, wants to sag back in the lane, protecting the rim at all costs. The idea is to invite Paul to pull-up and shoot a jump shot.

And finally, our very own Ryan Schwan was back on the airwaves yesterday, discussing the Hornets-Spurs series on the latest Hoops Addict podcast. Ryan starts speaking words from his mouth at about the 22:30 mark, and if you hear any strange noises in the background, rest assured that it's just him juggling kittens. That's how he rolls.

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