It’s ok if you were one of the ones who picked the Hornets to lose to the more experienced Mavericks in the first round. How were you supposed to know the Hornets were that good? There’s no way Dallas would fizzle out of the first round two years in a row, right??
Plus, even if the Hornets, who have never been past a first round playoff series in New Orleans could best the Mavs, there’s no way they’d make it past the defending champs, right??
Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time to change your pick and hop on the Bees’ Bandwagon. After all, the third time’s a charm, or at least the third quarter is the charm for the Hornets.
New Orleans took turns going back and forth with the Spurs in the first half before Tony Parker’s triple right before the half put San Antonio up by one at the break. Then, the third quarter came and just like in Game 1, New Orleans took over.
The biggest factor so far is the fact that the Spurs have no answer for Chris Paul and David West. Paul dictates tempo, distributes the ball well, and scores with ease. West is just as effective with his back to the basket down low as he is playing 18 feet out using his jab step to put the ball on the floor or hit the J.
The Hornets did a decent job of stopping Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli drives for most of the game. In the first half, however, the Spurs played tight defense, forced bad shots, and controlled the boards. It was clear in the early going that New Orleans was not on its game. Shots were not falling and Tyson Chandler succumbed to early foul trouble. With all that going against New Orleans, they still hung in there never really trailed by too many after the Spurs put together a run.
Then the third quarter came, and the Hornets made the NBA’s current dynasty seem…well…old.
The Hornets pushed the pace led by Paul and the dead-eye shooting of Peja Stojakovic, and the Hornets’ D was pesky enough to start forcing turnovers and bad shots. Even when the Spurs did an excellent job of moving the ball in the half court set and getting some baskets, the Hornets would counter with a run of their own. New Orleans erased the rebounding edge in the second half and got points off of turnovers.
The next step for the Spurs will be to try to defend their home court. These two teams split the season series 2-2 taking turns destroying each other much like the Hornets have done in the first two games of the playoff series.
The Spurs have looked their best when disrupting the Hornets’ offense with physical play and getting to the foul line putting Hornets’ starters in foul trouble. Stopping both Paul and West at the same time would be a bigger task. Adding to that, N.O. has bench players stepping up and giving quality minutes. Melvin Ely has been serviceable when Chandler’s on the pine and Bonzi Wells, Julian Wright, and Jannero Pargo keep the energy level high even when CP3 is on the bench.
If San Antonio can limit the duo of Paul and West and slow the game down, it gives them their best chance to try to come back from an 0-2 deficit, which is something only 13 teams have done before in a best of seven set.
Although as the series shifts back to San Antonio with the Hornets garnering all the momentum, it’s much easier said than done.