Hornets-Spurs: Tuesday News Wrap

Published: May 13, 2008

Big-massive-huge Game 5 between the Hornets and Spurs goes down at the New Orleans Arena this evening. Here's a billion links before the madness consumes us…

From Chris Colston in USA Today

  • The team that wins Game 5 in a best-of-seven that was tied 2-2 has gone on to win 118 of 141 series (83.7%). And the home team is 105-36 in those situations. "Their home court has been very good for them and their crowds have been great," Duncan said. "I don't know if their game plan will change much, but they're going to bring it with everything they've got."

Jim Eichenhofer checks in with a Q&A with Byron Scott from yesterday's practice. Here's a slice…

  • Q: Is there anything you can do tactically to get Peja more shots?

    Scott: The ones he's getting right now, all of them seem to be under duress. But at the beginning (of Game 4), he had three wide-open layups. He just missed them. David (West) missed some easy shots, so did Peja. But we have to understand that defense is what got us here. We can't worry about the offense.

In today's Times-Picayune, James Varney writes about Peja's struggles, and tells us of the Hornets brainstorming session at yesterday's practice…

  • Scott said he allowed the players to float defensive schemes Monday. If they had a more effective way of clamping down on Spurs forward Tim Duncan or sealing off the Spurs' pick-and-roll, he was willing to entertain it. Chandler said he considered seeking Scott's permission to take on Duncan single-handedly, but that did not appear to be an option either the players or the coaches have seriously entertained.

    "I went to them today and said, 'You guys tell me how you want to play pick-and-rolls and how you want to play Tim Duncan, because I felt in games three and four we pretty much got away from trusting what we were doing," Scott said. "So I put it in their hands. They had some ideas. Some of them I liked, some of them I didn't."

Also in the T-P today, Jeff Duncan writes about the Hornets recent success at the New Orleans Arena

  • New Orleans has lost one home game since the beginning of March — a 77-66 head-scratcher to Utah on April 8.

    Otherwise, they've been nearly invincible, fueled by a raucous home crowd that hasn't experienced playoff basketball in four years and never with a berth in the conference finals at stake.

    "We're very confident," Hornets center Tyson Chandler said. "At this point, it's a three-game series. We've got two home games, and hopefully we'll wrap this game up and have a chance to win the series (Thursday) in San Antonio."

Back to Eichenhofer, who has some key questions ahead of tonight's game, one of them regarding the homecourt advantage…

  • The numbers speak for themselves: tonight will be the 12th straight home sellout. The Hornets are 10-1 in the past 11 instances of a capacity crowd. New Orleans has gone 17-1 overall in home games since Feb. 27 (Utah's April 8 victory was the lone blemish).

    San Antonio has looked dreadful in each of its past three trips to New Orleans, losing by 25, 19 and 18 points. While many analysts are predicting a Spurs victory tonight – and a subsequent series win in 6 by the four-time NBA champions – they will have to play infinitely better basketball than what they've shown here lately to do it.

In the San Antonio Express-News, Buck Harvey makes Chris Paul out to be the devil

  • There's something else going on inside of him, and it comes out occasionally when the Spurs get too close to him, or a call goes the other way. Then, Paul looks like a man who’s had waaay too much coffee.

    Few humans have expressions as diverse as the Paul smile and the Paul scowl. The latter manifested in technical fouls in college, including two against Duke in his last year in school. But no one would have said much about any of that if not for a moment only Jason Terry would appreciate.

    Then, in the last regular-season game of the 2005 ACC season, Paul threw a below-the-belt punch that floored Julius Hodge of North Carolina State. The refs didn't see the blow, and Paul went on to beat the Wolfpack with a runner at the buzzer.

    Asked about the punch afterward, Paul made it worse. He lied and said he would never do such a thing to Hodge.

One of the adjustments the Spurs made to get back in this series was to replace Michael Finley in the starting lineup with Manu Ginobili. As Mike Monroe tells us today, Finley has stayed classy despite the demotion…

  • "I didn't have a problem with it," Finley said after scoring 12 points, on 5-for-7 shooting, in the Spurs' 100-80 victory Sunday night at the AT&T Center. "When me and Pop sat down before I came here, he laid out the ground rules of what I was coming into. I told him I was willing to do whatever he wanted, if that was come off the bench, or whatever.

    "I'm just doing my role."

In the Shreveport Times, Larry Wade has words from Tim Duncan ahead of Game 5

  • "If you lose one of these home games," said Duncan, "you're facing elimination and for the most part a series is over. We're going to try to take (a game) and put real pressure on them."

    But Duncan and teammate Tony Parker know that won't be easy, especially in New Orleans, where the Hornets had one of the NBA's best home records (30-11) during the regular season.

    "Their home court has been very good for them, and their crowds have been great for them," said Duncan. "I don't know if their game plan is going to change much, but you know they're going to bring it with all they've got. And we're going to have to match that, try to control the game, and hopefully we can shoot a little better while we're there."

More quotes, courtesy of Les East in the Baton Rouge Advocate

  • "If we come out thinking that just because we're home everything is going to be OK," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said after practice Monday, "then we're going to be in for a rude awakening. We have to make it OK. We've got to come out here like our backs are against the wall."
  • "We're not relying on (homecourt advantage)," Hornets point guard Chris Paul said, "but at the same time, we're not in a panic mode. It's 2-2. We won the first two games and everybody was knocking the Spurs. Now we lost two games and it's like, what do they do, they're playing against the defending champs? We're not down 0-3. Now it's just a three-game series. I'm not too worried."
  • Tyson Chandler: "We're all right, right now. I think if you want to beat the champs, you've got to knock them out. We've got to come out and we've got to be focused and we've got to throw the first punch."
  • "Whatever we decide to do, it has to be done with an aggressive mind-set," Scott said. "If we don't do it with an aggressive mind-set from the start of the game, then it doesn't matter what we do defensively, we're going to be in trouble."

Back to the Express-News, and Mike Finger says the Hornets mojo is no longer a secret

  • Peterson admitted the Spurs had made giant strides defensively, saying, "They took a lot of things away from us."

    West agreed.

    "They kind of got our rhythm," West said. "They know how we play now."

    Spurs forward Kurt Thomas said West's assessment is no accident. According to Thomas, the Spurs used the first few games of the series to "pick up their tendencies," and they're now putting that knowledge into practice.

Over at ESPN.com, David Thorpe has a good, thorough Game 5 preview

  • Expect the Hornets to pay more attention to denying these outlet passes in Game 5 by shadowing either Parker or Ginobili, hoping to inhibit or steal the long outlet. But that does come with some risk, as a failure to stop that pass with a defender at half court means there will be one less defender back to help near the rim.

Hornets Hype thinks the hype was overhyped…

  • Even I was rolling my eyes at the torrent of articles last week talking about the meteoric rise of the Hornets, the Changing of the Guard, and how Chris Paul is the Next Coming of Whoever and the Savior of Basketball. Partly because, well, yeah, the Hornets are up-and-coming. Thanks for finally noticing. But I thought it was overhype. It was too much too soon.

With Mike D'Antoni having bolted to New York, at least one Phoenix journalist thinks Byron Scott could be a candidate for the Suns coaching gig

  • I know what you're thinking: Doesn't Scott already have a job coaching the New Orleans Hornets?

    Yes, he does.

    But Scott can opt out of his contract after this season. And while he has professed his desire to remain in New Orleans, you never know if a few flattering words – and a fat contract – would change his mind.

  • There's not enough money in the economically depressed city to support an NBA franchise over the long haul, so Scott could view Phoenix as the more stable franchise.

After leading the NBA in steals this season, Chris Paul was named second team All-Defensive yesterday, while Tyson Chandler also received some love in the voting. Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen were both named to the first team

  • "I'm real happy for Timmy and Bruce," Popovich said before boarding the Spurs' charter jet to New Orleans. "They worked hard, as all the other players on the list did, I'm sure. But to have two on one team is pretty special.

    "That's what helps us win. Without that, we're just another basketball team, but they make it different for us."

Also from that last link, Robert Horry disses Phil Jackson…

  • Though three of Horry's seven championship rings were earned under Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who has won nine titles as head coach of the Michael Jordan-era Bulls and the Shaquille O'Neal-era Lakers, he gives Popovich the nod over Jackson.

    "Phil wouldn't yell at the top dogs," Horry said. "Pop will yell at the top dogs, just like he yells at the bottom dogs. That's the biggest key. And Pop preaches defense a little more than Phil.

    "If you'd have given Pop all the talent Phil had, I think he'd have more rings than Phil."

Nice article from Jaquetta White in today's T-P, as she writes about the Hornets positive impact on local businesses. Quoted here is Pam Randazza, owner of the Black and Gold Sports Shop in Metairie…

  • "Everyday we've been getting a truckload of Hornets merchandise, which is something I never thought we'd get," Randazza said. That has been an especially nice treat because this time of year is usually the slowest for the store, which considers the Saints and LSU football seasons its busiest time.

    "With the Hornets, it's been huge," Randazza said. "It's just changed our whole business from seasonal to year round."

On a similar note, Jeff Duncan writes about the windfalls the Hornets are receiving due to their success…

  • The Hornets have already earned $223,126 for having the second-best record in the Western Conference, $164,168 for making the playoffs and $195,337 for making it to the second round. They can earn $322,792 more if they defeat the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals and make it to the conference finals.

    The NBA runner-up gets $1,290,821, and the champ gets $1,948,042.

Some quick hitters for the home stretch…

So Game 5 gets tipped tonight at 8:30p.m. Check back here later for the usual open thread. For now, the final words go to John Schuhmann over at NBA.com

  • If you're not excited for this one, you have no soul.

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