Thursday, May 8, 2008


I watched last night's Hornets-Spurs game locked in a living room with an ambivalent but loyal friend, a horny english bulldog and a lot of beer. I guess something about that combination produced the right amount of good mojo to pull off a win. Yesterday morning I offered a number of adjustments. let's see how they turned out:

One quick note before I get started:

I'll say right now what I found simultaneously most impressive and most worrying yesterday evening was the aggressive play of the Hornets. In a hostile environment, faced with a hungry yet sophisticated veteran squad, they were hardly intimidated and showed a cold-bloodedness the Spurs sometimes lack. They were genuinely going for the jugular last night, and although they failed, I was impressed nonetheless. Last night it became disturbingly vivid how well the Spurs are gonna need to play if we are gonna make it out of this round, much less win one for the thumb.

alright, let's get down to business:

1) Bowen on Stojakovic: Stojakovic went 2 of 7 from the field and 1 of 3 from beyond the arch. Case and point.

2) forgo the jumper for the drive: Parker and Ginobili each had 31 points, and a significant amount of those points were earned in the paint. I was particularly proud of Ginobili to see him battle through the obvious pain he was feeling in his ankles and create.

3) Decent frontcourt play: Our bigs played a lot better in game 2 than tonight. Our power forwards and centers had a collective 38 points in game 2. They only had 25 this evening. Similarly West had 23 points tonight and only 10 in game 2. It may or may not be relevant that Ime Udoka played 24 minutes on Monday but less than 2 minutes tonight. He is the Spurs' only forward who has the footwork and footspeed to both stop West in the post as well as deny him the mid range shot (this has become an increasingly controversial opinion of mine, but I stand by it).

N.B. To their credit, this was the first time we actually out-rebounded the Hornets although, like in game 2, it was fundamentally a draw (Spurs 43-Hornets 41).

4) Go under the screen: I don't think you could say this strategy was an unmitigated failure (it certainly wasn't an unmitigated success). Paul used the space we gave him and lit the Spurs up for 35. Nonetheless, I would rather allow Paul to take 15 footers all day instead of allowing him to hit Chandler for the open alley-oop or Stojakovic for the open 3. A 50 point game from Paul and a 40 point game from the rest of the Hornets is better than a 20 point game for Paul in which he disses the same number of assists.

Either way, some combination of pride, sensible coaching, and bold play produced a solid outcome for the Spurs, and I'm just gonna enjoy that for the moment. What's most obnoxious is the way the media will turn based on this game. The ability of the mainstream media to stop on a dime and go from "Spurs are dead" to "THEY"RE ALIVE" is unparalleled. But let's be honest with ourselves, we still have a lot of hard work to do. The difference between being down 3-1 and 3-0 is not significant. We will only prove we can take this series if we can tie it up on Sunday.

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