New Orleans Hornets 99, San Antonio Spurs 90: From “sloppy to poor,” Spurs fall in 3rd quarter
AT&T CENTER — Having whittled an 18-point lead to three, Richard Jefferson lined up a open 3-pointer from the baseline with a little over a minute left — it was his only missed shot of the fourth quarter, and one that would have completed a furious comeback.
“It looked good, I was already on my way back to celebrate a little bit,” George Hill said. “That’s how it goes though, you’re going to make some and you’re going to miss some.”
Mostly it was the San Antonio Spurs missing tonight, shooting a meager 38.8% from the floor, compounded by a 6-for-26 night from behind the 3-point line.
One night away from Halloween, there was no returning from a third quarter hole in which the Spurs dug their own graves, going scoreless over the final 10 possessions of the third quarter, and 12 consecutive possessions overall, falling behind 18 points to the New Orleans Hornets.
“You gotta shoot the ball too,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “At one point we had our big guys 0-for-the-world, the perimeter people were 0-for-the-world. You can play all the ‘D’ you want, but you’ve also got to put the ball in the bucket.”
With the Spurs offense hitting the breaks a little bit, the Spurs struggled to score at times, shooting 31.7% through three quarters. Most notably, leading scorer Manu Ginobili (23 points) shot 2-11 from the 3-point line — a combination of last second heaves against the shot clock and missed open looks.
“We really struggled, we couldn’t make a shot, and couldn’t play any defense,” Ginobili said. “They beat us in every way possible.”
While still trying to push at every opportunity, the Spurs halfcourt offense was a mess through three quarters, going from “sloppy to poor” as Popovich described the progression from the second to third quarter.
Though there were some execution problems, the night could just as easily be an aberration, with the Spurs combining two historically unusual problems for them — horrid 3-point shooting and a starting front line that shot a combined 4-20 (with Blair and Duncan going 2-10 each).
The lone efficient scorer for the Spurs was Richard Jefferson, who scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, nearly bringing the Spurs back from the brink in an unusual lineup that featured him as the team’s tallest player on the court (Blair was the only big man).
Without Duncan and Tony Parker, a lineup of George Hill, Gary Neal, Ginobili, Jefferson and Blair nearly brought the Spurs back. The last missed shot notwithstanding, the fourth quarter featured an entirely different Jefferson from a season ago.
Last year Ginobili was essentially Superman, dragging Jefferson by his cape to his few high scoring games. Tonight Ginobili was actually found mimicking one of Jefferson’s moves, copying a hard baseline drive only to stop on a dime as the helpless defender ran by.
Unfortunately for the Spurs, it was too little to late.
“I thought they did a real good job down the stretch in a lot of ways on both ends of the court,” Popovich said of his unorthodox lineup. “But it’s a 48 minute game and we played for only one of those quarters. The result was not good for us.”