Spurs-Hornets Preview

It took nearly a month for the San Antonio Spurs to lose another

game after an October defeat against the New Orleans Hornets.

San Antonio visits New Orleans on Sunday night looking for a bit

of revenge with a chance to extend its Southwest Division lead.

The Hornets beat the Spurs 99-90 on Oct. 30, and Tim Duncan and

Tony Parker sat the fourth quarter after San Antonio fell behind by

16 at the end of the third.

The Spurs got the message, especially Parker. He averaged 19.8

points and 7.9 assists during a 12-game winning streak, which ended

Friday with a 103-94 loss to Dallas.

Despite the loss, the Spurs (13-2) are off to their best 15-game

start in franchise history.

Manu Ginobili scored a season-high 31 points and George Hill

scored 21 off the bench for the Spurs, who failed to score 100 or

more points for only the fifth time in 15 games. San Antonio is the

third highest-scoring team in the NBA, averaging 107.1 points.

“The last few games we were executing great down the stretch and

making shots, but today they did,” Ginobili said. “It was pretty

clear they made all the shots they needed and we didn’t.”

Duncan scored 15 points, but he’s struggled to start the season.

Duncan is averaging 13.5 points and 6.9 rebounds – far below his

career averages of 21.0 points and 8.5 rebounds.

It may not get any easier for Duncan against the Hornets, who

lead the NBA giving up 91.1 points per game.

New Orleans (12-3) is coming off one of its best defensive

performances of the season Friday in a 97-78 victory at Portland.

The Hornets held the Blazers to a season-low 13 points in the

fourth quarter to move within one game of the Spurs in the

division.

Chris Paul scored 16 points and added 13 assists, and Willie

Green scored a team-high 19 points off the bench. Portland shot

only 39.5 percent from the field.

“That’s a credit to our team D,” Paul said. “At one point we got

11 of 12 stops. (Defense) is who we are. That’s our identity.”

After two straight losses to the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah,

first-year coach Monty Williams said Friday’s win was consistent

with the team’s spirited effort in practice.

“This win doesn’t say a lot about me as a coach,” said Williams,

who is a former assistant in San Antonio under Gregg Popovich.

“It’s all about our guys. They decided yesterday in practice that

we need to be a defensive team and we showed signs tonight.”

Paul has averaged 26.5 points in his last six against the Spurs,

including 25 in the Oct. 30 win.

However, the Hornets’ last win against the Spurs was their first

in six games. San Antonio has won six of eight in the series,

including two victories last season when Paul sat out after having

knee surgery.