San Antonio Spurs 109, New Orleans Hornets 84
AT&T CENTER–Big deficit comebacks–and the need to avoid them–being a popular pregame topic of conversation, the San Antonio Spurs rang up a season-high 68 points in the first half on their way to a 109-84 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
“You can only reach into that bag so many times, and we’ve done it five times already,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. “Eventually it will catch up to us.”
Having fallen behind quickly into double digit holes in the first two games against the Hornets, with one comeback successful and the first one falling just short, the San Antonio Spurs did what worked so successfully in their previous two games against the Hornets–spread a previously elite New Orleans defense out with four shooters, then bombard them with three-pointers, dribble penetration, and extra passes.
In a blowout like tonight, there are so many things to point out that the Spurs did right (or Hornets did wrong), but the most notable was dealing with pick and rolls (and, in fact, any play)Â involving Matt Bonner.
Keying a second quarter run of nearly flawless execution, Bonner scored 12 of his 14 points and two assists as the Spurs blew open what was already a fairly comfortable lead.
By my unofficial count, the Spurs ran nine plays in the second quarter involving Matt Bonner, scoring eight times, of which seven possessions ended with three-pointers. A quick rundown of some of his second quarter work:
- After running a pick and roll with Bonner, Manu Ginobili finds himself in a defensive switch against one of the Hornets’ big men, clearing ample room for a step back three-pointer (37-25).
- Bonner nails an open three-pointer off dribble penetration and a pass from Gary Neal (40-25).
- Bonner and Neal play a little two-man game, with Bonner finding Neal open behind the line (43-27).
- Hill fouled at rim after pick and roll frees him, hits both free throws (45-27).
- Bonner hits a pick and pop three from Manu Ginobili.
- Another pick and pop, same combination of players (53-29).
- Matt Bonner on a drive and kick, finds Neal again for a three-pointer (58-34).
- Tony Parker takes one step into the paint, and finds Bonner for an open three when his defender sags too much. (64-34).
- Bonner misses an open three, ruining an otherwise perfect quarter.
“They were hard-hedging, so if I can get off the pick quick enough–sometimes not even set it, but slip to a spot–they’re behind,” Bonner said. “Then I can catch the ball for a shot, drive, or find someone else open.”