Friday , May , 09 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

New Orleans Hornets Fall to Spurs on the Road

New Orleans Hornets Fall to Spurs on the Road

It was our second straight Game 3 loss on the road. But unlike in Dallas, we executed well until the very end. Honestly, I can’t complain much about the Hornets’ effort at all. Tip your hat to Tony Parker for a fantastic game, credit Ginobili for being much more aggressive, and credit Duncan for beating West to loose ball after loose ball. New Orleans started off with great intensity but it waned down the stretch. San Antonio’s defensive strength only got stronger. In the end, you knew the Spurs were going to win a game… right? There’s absolutely no way we went to S.A. and swept them. They’re still the champs, they still play inspired defense, and they’re far better and more versatile than the media gives them credit for.

That said, this game eerily mirrors the regular season series. During the season, we won by an average 24.5 points in our wins and the Spurs won by an average 10.5. The Hornets won the first two games of this series by 19.5 and lost tonight by 11. That has to provide some solace. Throw in the fact that we played with nothing more than house money, and I’m already looking forward to Game 3. A quick player by player breakdown:

Chris Paul:What can you say? He came out looking for his own offense more than I’ve seen all season. That’s a sure sign he knew his shot was on. CP3 went 15-25 and torched Tony Parker at will. He made a Dwyane Wade-like overhead flip shot. He made Tim Duncan look silly by turning him around and laying it past his outstretched arm. Sure, TP was more than willing to return the favor, going for 31 himself. But has any guy this young and experienced ever had a playoffs like this?

Bruce Bowen switched off the Paul assignment onto Peja, and the stat sheet won’t show how much Bruce hindered Predrag. Yes, Bowen’s the dirtiest player in the league. But he’s also unmistakably a difference maker defensively. He fought through numerous screens and made sure he knew where Peja was in transition. Do those two things and you’ll limit Peja every time. One thing the Serb did do well: taking Bowen off the dribble. He did it three times (surprisingly easily) and we may need a little more of that in Game 4.

This game was dominated by the two point guards. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen two point guards go head to head and play at this high a level; usually it’s one PG playing phenomenally with the other one slightly off or being outperformed. I’ve called Tony Parker the best lay-up maker in the NBA for a long time. He may lack the ability to dunk in traffic, but he can score with either hand, off the glass, over outstretched hands, after double clutches, and on reverses. In fact, he could probably do all five at the same time. And then Chris Paul… Chris Paul…

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