Spurs 102, Hornets 91
By the standards of this underachieving season for the San
Antonio Spurs, coach Gregg Popovich said even back-to-back wins is
something of an accomplishment.
Don’t look now, but the Spurs have won three straight.
Tony Parker scored 20 points and the Spurs extended their
longest winning streak in nearly two months, beating New Orleans
102-91 on Friday night to sweep the season series from the Hornets
for the second time in four seasons.
Popovich said Parker likely won’t fully recover from a nagging
ankle and sore hip until this summer, and that his point guard is
in no shape to play 38 minutes. But Parker did play 30 against the
Hornets, shooting 8 of 12 of the floor and handing out six
“It’s a real double-edge sword,” Popovich said. “He’s got to
work to get in shape, but at the same time, he can’t exacerbate the
ankle or the hip situation.”
Manu Ginobili had 16 points and Keith Bogans scored 15 for the
Spurs. San Antonio is on its longest winning streak since January
and turn around Saturday to face Memphis, which are also trying to
catch the Spurs for a playoff spot.
New Orleans, meanwhile, keeps tumbling from the playoff
Rookie Darren Collison had 32 points for the Hornets, including
16 in the fourth quarter. But the Hornets still dropped their
fourth straight, their longest skid of the season.
“These last four games that we’ve been losing has nothing to do
with our offense. It has everything to do with our defense,”
Collison said. “I thought our effort was there today, I just
thought they hit some shots.”
Collison had his second 30-night game in four games, and didn’t
miss any of his seven shots in the fourth quarter.
Marcus Thornton had 18 points for the Hornets, but left in the
fourth after taking a hard fall. He was diagnosed with an upper
back strain and did not return, and was to be re-evaluated
Losing for the sixth time in seven games, the Hornets (31-32)
fell under .500 for the first time since Jan. 2 and fell 5 1/2
games behind Portland for the final playoff spot in the Western
Climbing back won’t be easy. Still stuck without Chris Paul –
who has watched his team go 6-11 since injuring his left knee – the
Hornets have only seven of their remaining 19 games against losing
David West had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Hornets.
“I just don’t think we’re in a rhythm as a team,” West said.
“These games are being decided in three or four minute stretches.
In those stretches we just have to play better.”
Tim Duncan had 12 points and rookie DeJuan Blair had 10 points
and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, who had all their starters in double
figures. Matt Bonner added another 12 off the bench.
Like the Hornets, the Spurs can relate to a tough final stretch:
17 of their remaining 23 are against winning teams, and San Antonio
has just eight left at home. But the Spurs are also trying to
balance resting Duncan for the playoffs while trying to ensure
they’ll make it there.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game that March is a
month where if they can find Duncan some rest, “they’ll do it.”
Unexpectedly, the 33-year-old has held up much better than
So has Ginobili, who Popovich said has seemed to gotten some of
his old lift and quickness back.
“I feel like I can outsmart players and the shots are finally
falling a little more,” Ginobili said. “Honestly, I can’t
complain right now. I’m feeling good.”
NOTES: Thornton set the Hornets rookie record for 3-pointers in
a season with 82, besting J.R. Smith’s former mark of 81. … The
Spurs still have more than a week to bring their roster to the
NBA-minimum 13 players after waiving Michael Finley, who signed
with Boston on Friday.