New Orleans Hornets 99, San Antonio Spurs 90: From “sloppy to poor,” Spurs fall in 3rd quarter

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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.”

  • DorieStreet

    I don’t care what the team statistical averages are, the Spurs are a poor 3-point shooting team for what today’s NBA calls for to move forward deep in the playoffs. This squad has no personnel that night in-night out, game-to-game, can be relied upon to fill that void in half-court offense execution. Manu is inconstitent; Matt Bonner can only do it against weaker NBA opponents–his stroke disappears when we need it in a tight game. Everyone else has no beyond-the-arc game. Please Pop-play the newcommers Neal, Temple and see can they be relied upon to end this problem.

  • Jaydog7

    I hear what you’re saying DorieStreet, but at the same time, all great half court games start in the post. Getting solid production out of Blair and Splitter; in terms of finishing around the basket helps out tremendously. Obviously, we’re not like Orlando, living and dying by the 3, but I believe one of our main strengths has always been our ability to get to the basket with TP and Manu, we need to continue that with RJ and the young horses Neal and Anderson, once he gets healthy. Getting out on the break for those easy buckets and getting to the line is what I would like to see more of at this point, but the 3 ball will be there for us.

  • grego

    ^Neal played in that game. He was a part of the come back. Only 2nd game, but the Spurs 3-point shooting is probably its strongest in years.

  • Bob

    What I don’t get is why we never run plays to get our 3 point shooters shots instead of just relying on them coming in the flow of the offense. In reality the Lakers did pretty well for a team that wasn’t that great from behind the arc.

    Really, how far we advance in the playoffs is going to come down to our defense. You can’t just try to outscore opponents but lock them down. We should be trying to hold opponents down to low 90′s and low 40% on field goals. You can’t let a team hit 50% from the field and 63% on threes.

  • Jacques

    I think the Spurs would’ve played better if they were more patient w/ the ball. In 3rd quarter, Spurs kept missing shots, only driving the ball to the basket.

    RJ showed some signs back when he was a Milwaukee Buck in 4th quarter. I think the absence of TP and TD, as well as the inconsistent Manu allowed him to score more. This is what gets me worried; RJ does not “fit” into this team, b/c he is so used to being the leading scorer, not a role player.

    Hope te results are different on Monday. Let us watch out for Tiago!

  • tradetp

    Signed Parker to millions. He was outplayed by his backup and CP3.

  • zainn

    we really needed tiago in this game…

  • SAS

    Disappointed loss. i think this team is as same as last year. i think we didn’t change nothing but tiago. we badly need of a 3 point shooter. i don’t think neal and anderson can fill that role with playing 10 or 15 min per game. we have to see how tiago can impact? lets hope for better…

  • rj

    paul ate tony parker’s lunch. i’m a little concerned about dejuan blair. i know it’s a long season, but he looked a little lost and out of rhythm last night. he did come up with some strong rebounding during that furious run, however. didn’t see much of james anderson last night. maybe pop should have reinserted duncan, parker, and anderson when we cut the lead to three. the guys who got us back in the game were bound to cool off. it is encouraging that we can hang in games witha mock lineup.

  • JT

    The Spurs defense was horrible in this game. David West shot the ball without being contested for most of the night. Dejuan, is not a starter, he should focus on rebounds only, his offense is not good yet, he rushes his shots and his shots do not look good.
    That third quarter, it looked as they were no plays called, it was just a bunch of guys playing with no plans. I always hear the Spurs start slow, this and that, but how come other teams gell so fast? Oh yeah that super hard system. Come on, The core of this team has been playing together for a long time, and each year is the same thing. Look at the Celtic’s or Laker’s defense. What’s our excuse!!!

    Lets see what happens Monday and see if we can beat the Amare-less Suns.

  • ribanez1

    As I have previously stated, championship talk is delusional talk! A lot of thing have to go right for the Spurs and a lot of things have to go wrong for the more talented teams for the Spurs to win # 5. Last night’s run where they cut the lead from 18 to 3 was beautiful to watch. Spliter’s eventual insertion into the starting line up will help with the defense and make them better. However, watching the Lakers, Heat, Orlando and Boston play at this point leaves no doubt the Spurs can not compete with them over a 7 game series. They are not good enough at this point !

  • Ed

    C’mon now. it’s a little early to really judge this team yet. The only thing I’m worried about at this point is that in 2 games Duncan has been a total non-factor in the low-post. Even when he’s gotten the ball he’s been either unable to get a shot off or gotten off a low-percentage prayer. He’s still stout defensively and on the glass but, at this point, he looks like a shdow of his former self offensively. He looks like the bulk of his scoring will come from rebounding and little dump-offs from driving Guards. Too early to know anything for sure yet, so RelaX!!

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  • Francesco

    I just watched the game and I’m upset, so I’ll be blunt.

    @Ed hit the spot:
    “The only thing I’m worried about at this point is that in 2 games Duncan has been a total non-factor in the low-post.”

    We can’t be a terror from the arc if we don’t draw double teams down low thanks to our post players.

    TD will be more incisive in the playoff, but only for 20 minutes or so.

    So please stop talking about defence and 3point shooting. Duncan (bless him for the 4 titles he gave us) is done for, and so are our chances.

  • JustinFL

    I would like 2 see the starting lineup as this:
    5: McDyess
    4: Duncan
    3: RJ
    2: Hill
    1: Parker
    Let Hill concentrate on defense while him, Parker and Jefferson run the floor. In football each team has set plays they execute on offense throughout the first and somewhat second quarters to see what’s working and what their oppents defense is throwing at them. Use this lineup to gauge what’s working, what’s lacking, and how our opponent is adjusting to us. There is no certain minute mark that so and so comes in. Forget that crap.

    In the second unit I would like to see
    3: RJ
    2: Anderson
    1: Ginobili

    Forget smallball at least for awhile and try this out. Let Ginobili, Blair, and Anderson be the 2nd unit core. Plus you got Rj in there for a little while until you replace him with Simmons. I think part of why Pop worked him out was to extend his endurance and stamina. The 3 is our weakest link and Pop wants to keep him in as much as possible. As far as the frontcourt goes, it will depend on Splitter. He may need to come off the bench with Blair, or he may be good enough to start. We’ll just have to see.
    Everyone agrees that defense and rebounding should be what we hang our hat on every night. We are not taking anyone out of their game or surprising teams with smallball anymore. They expect it from us now and I personally think it’s overrated. Don’t get me wrong, it does have it’s place. It sure wouldn’t hurt to trade for a defensive minded big that is a proven rebounder. At this point, I would be happy to get a big with just a proven lowpost game, but hey we all know that is MUUUUUCH easier said than done.
    Oh how I long for the day we ruled the West before Gasol was hand delivered to the Lakers. It’s funny to think how that one trade forever changed the landscape of the West and history of this team.

  • Hobson13

    Ridiculous loss. When you go 6 for god damned 26 from the 3 point line (23%), you won’t win many games. Perhaps we aren’t a good 3 pt shooting team (it too early to know for sure). However, if we really aren’t a good shooting club, then why in the hell would we jack up 26 attempts led by Manu’s uber retarded 2 for 10 effort. We had this team in foul trouble and were in the penalty for much of the first half yet we continued (usually Manu) to jack 3 after 3. These kinds of games drives me mad. We didn’t lose because the Hornets were better. We lost because we were stupid and missed too many point blank shots.

    I love Manu to death, but his shooting was a big reason we lost this game. At what point does a player say, “I can’t make a 3 to save my life, so let me drive to the hole or create a foul or take a 20ft jumper, etc.”? Does one have to go 1 for 7, 3 for 15, or 4 for 20 from distance to reassess his strategy?

    I’ve ranted enough. The Spurs needed to win this game, but fell due to abysmal shooting. Let’s hope last night’s performance was an anomaly because we can’t afford to get off to another 4-6 start.

  • bduran

    “At what point does a player say, “I can’t make a 3 to save my life, so let me drive to the hole or create a foul or take a 20ft jumper, etc.”?”

    Well, it depends on the situation. How many of those 3s were at the end of shot clocks or quarters? Also, if he’s open behind the arc you have to make the other team pay, especially when struggling down low. If you’re a decent 3 pt shooter, which hopefully Manu will prove to be again this year, then you keep shooting 3s when open, even on an off night. Now, if he’s forcing them that’s another story.

    Unfortunately, I was at the UT-Baylor game watching my longhorns end a 12 game win streak of 21+ point wins so I can’t answer those questions. I was really looking forward to seeing the Spurs box score as a pick me up. Oh well.

    Honestly, if your bigs are having trouble inside it helps to space the floor with jump shooting. If your jump shooters aren’t getting open looks you need to make them pay inside. Looks like we couldn’t do either last night and I have no idea why, but it’s one game so I’ll just wait and see what happens.

  • agutierrez

    While I have been as hopeful as any Spurs fan that DeJuan was the second coming of Charles Barkeley, I am afraid that we may be seeing the severe limits of his game. At least at this point, he’s a one-dimensional player … rebounding, that’s it. He can’t put it back up because he gets blocked or misses because he thinks he’s gonna get blocked. He can’t defend because the taller guys just shoot over him. Maybe it wasn’t the ACLs that doomed him to a lower pick, but his other limitations. Again, hope I’m wrong but we’re not seeing much different from last year.

  • Chris

    Well there’s a reason why Manu never was an All Star player more than once and it’s because he’s way too inconsistent with his scoring as we saw tonight. I don’t know what you expect out of him other than yes he should’ve stopped shooting.

  • rj

    starting 5- duncan, parker, hill, jefferson, bonner. 2nd unit- hill, manu, anderson, splitter, blair.

  • Tyler

    It’s the second game of the season.

    Take a step back, take a deep breath….

  • Jim Henderson

    Guys, we’re drawing way too many conclusions about this team from just two games. There’s nothing wrong with this team more than what we already knew. Based on these two games there’s no reason to make any major line-up changes.

    We need to just accept the fact that we simply played a bad game last night. It was more than anything else a lack of mental preparation from the team as a whole. We took the non-playoff Hornets team a bit too much for granted. In addition, we are apparently attempting to efficiently mesh a new-breed opportunistic fast break offense with our more traditional half-court sets. This has led to execution problems. Furthermore, Blair and Duncan have still had little time playing together. Blair is just 21 years old, give that relationship a bit more time to jell. Also, Blair is still a work in progress. His game is likely to improve in fits and spurts. Be patient with him. You’ll be rewarded in due time.

    What the team needs to do is focus on playing “hard” at both ends for 48 minutes of Hell. We’ve been getting 12-24 mpg. over the first two games. You’re going to lose half your games that way.

    One thing important to note about this game: Gary Neal can really play at this level. I was very impressed by his performance, and I look for him to improve throughout the season as a situational scoring punch off the bench.

    Also, remember that we played without our best 3-point shooter (Bonner), and one of our purportedly best interior defenders (Splitter). In addition, we are not a bad shooting team. Our EFF FG% was 51.5 last year, good for 7th in the league. If anything, we have better shooters this year. We had an off shooting night. I know it’s frustrating, but it happens. It was more a result of a lack of mental preparation, and some early season team chemistry issues, than anything else. Also, there’s no reason to suspect that our low-post scoring will remain this weak. If anything, it could ultimately be a bit stronger this year with the addition of Splitter. Again, a bit of patience is required, as well as tamping down or early season expectations just a bit.

    Our main problems stem from not approaching each game with sufficient intensity and focus, which contributes to much less than 100% effort on the defensive end for 48 minutes. And Pop deserves some of the blame in this regard. He needs to light a more intense fire under this team from a defensive perspective. At that point it’s up to the team whether they jump out of the kettle of boiling water, or ignore the the heat to their own demise.

  • quincyscott

    The other team shot 50% from the field. You are not going to beat people allowing that. Even if the Spurs had shot well from the three point line and pulled the game out, Popovich would not have been happy with our defensive performance, and rightfully so.

    The success of this team will depend on its ability to play well for more than one or two quarters at a time, to state the obvious. But, this is just one game, so we should not get too carried away about how good they looked in game one, or how bad in game two. The play of some of the younger and newer players is definitely encouraging.

  • Bankshot21

    Alas I agree with Jim. This was actually a good game. I’m sure POP learned a lot about the team. Soon as the Hornets went up by 4 I looked at my GF and said “this game is over”. That was early in the 3rd quarter and when the fourth rolled around and I was still watching she asked why. What I more so wanted to see than everything was the way they would buckle down and get stops, which they did. George Hill in my opinion should have entered the game way sooner than he did in the 3rd. TP looked good and I’m thrilled that he will remain a Spur but when there is a PG going off on us via shot or pass we need George Hill on that floor. But as Jim said its not as though we didn’t know where our short comings were. Gary Neal has a SWEEEEEEEET stroke. And the range is almost unlimited. We are looking good my fellow Spur fans…..even with the loss its a joyous occasion!!!

  • rj

    i could see chris paul getting this group to the playoffs. theyve upgraded at every position and chris is…..a bad boy. too bad their uniforms are terrible.

  • Flavor

    Spurs lost? wow.. thats it. the season is over. they’ll be relocating after the season.

  • Hobson13

    bduran
    October 31st, 2010 at 11:02 am

    “If you’re a decent 3 pt shooter, which hopefully Manu will prove to be again this year, then you keep shooting 3s when open, even on an off night.”

    Very rarely have I seen a shooter snap out of an off night by shooting taking even more shots. In most cases, if you’re in a funk to start the game, that’s how it usually ends. Besides, this isn’t an either or case of either Manu take the 3 or pass. When you are an elite player, you can create your own shot outside of what the defense immediately gives you. Manu needs to recognize this and alter his strategy accordingly from game to game. That’s what the great ones do.

    Jim Henderson
    October 31st, 2010 at 12:47 pm
    “Guys, we’re drawing way too many conclusions about this team from just two games.”

    Agreed. Good post. One thing that these two games has shown me is that many of our young guys (Neal and Anderson particularly) can play at the NBA level. This entire team will just need some time, but we can’t afford to drop winnable games in the same silly manner we lost the NO game. We all know that one or two dropped games will mean the difference in seeding by the end of the year. On a more positive note, the Rockets are 0-3 and the Mavs dropped a home game to the Grizz. Such is the parity in the WC. We’ll get our stuff together, but we need to push our players to compete for an entire 48 min with much greater intensity on both ends of the court.

  • Bentley

    Jim Henderson

    “Our main problems stem from not approaching each game with sufficient intensity and focus, which contributes to much less than 100% effort on the defensive end for 48 minutes. And Pop deserves some of the blame in this regard. He needs to light a more intense fire under this team from a defensive perspective. At that point it’s up to the team whether they jump out of the kettle of boiling water, or ignore the the heat to their own demise.”

    I agree with this entire statement. To add on, I’ll say that Pop has not done this for awhile. I think he needs to do a better job of energizing his team, really getting into guys, and waking them up. It almost looks like the Spurs when they play just go through the motions, instead of putting out 100% effort and energy each possession.

  • bduran

    Hobson13,

    “That’s what the great ones do.”

    Manu is one of the great ones and I have him seen him come through at the end with great shots on a bad shooting night. I’ve also seen great shooting nights turn sour. I do agree that great players can’t let the defense totally dictate what they do, but at the same time, they take advantage of what’s there. Now, I didn’t watch the game so I’m just speaking in generalities here. Maybe Manu forced a bunch of bad ones.

    Chris,

    “Well there’s a reason why Manu never was an All Star player more than once and it’s because he’s way too inconsistent with his scoring as we saw tonight.”

    Sadly, I think if Manu averaged 23 points on 19 shots he’d make a lot more All Star games. Scoring seems to matter the most in selection, not efficiency. When it comes to efficiency, Manu is one of the elite.

    On a blog called Arturo’s silly little stats he looked at offense generated per possessions used. Offense generated is points + 2.68*assists (apparently 2.68 is the average value per made FG) and possessions is FGA+Assist+TOs+.44*FTA. Looking at this Manu was the 5th highest in Offense generated per possession over 2008,2009, and 2010. Then he grouped the players into 4 groups (very high, high, medium, and low) by possession. Manu was the top among the very high utilizers (although he argues that Wade is the best because he’s not too far behind in per possession offense and has a ridiculously high utilization).

    The moral of the story is that Manu is a ridiculously awesome, and underrated, offensive player and should be an All Star most years. Here’s the link.

    http://arturogalletti.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/gimme-the-rock-part-3-the-shooters-dilemma/

  • Colin

    1 loss…….move on and quit over-analyzing

  • andy

    watched the game from tip to buzzer, and the things i really took away were similar to those stated already.

    i’ll second the thoughts on neal. the guy can flat out shoot, and he shows pretty good offensive awareness. he needs a little work on chasing and working through screens on the defensive end, but i think he’s a reliable 15-20 mins/game.

    the worst thing i took away was duncan’s defense on the pick and roll/pop. also, they called him for a travel and a couple of other things that i feel he wouldn’t have done years ago. i know it’s old news, but seeing paul and west torch us on the pick and pop was a little disheartening. then again, even with hands in the face, they were hitting some shots, and we weren’t.

    i’m still optimistic about the season. once splitter picks up the p&r defense, we start being crisper on our rotations, and someone stays in front of the penetrator (seriously, marcus thornton was killing us on drives), i think we’ll be ok.

  • junierizzle%

    I agree with Jim Henderson. It’s just the 2nd game of the season. Chill out everybody.

    Its not the full team out there yet. Even POP didn’t panic too much. He never called a time out, which he probably should have. He let the team figure it out. They didn’t, and the Hornets built an 18 point lead. He was just trying to see what the team was made of.
    Also if RJ hits that 3 to tie and the Spurs might have pulled it out. Then everyone would talking about how gutsy the SPURS were to get the win.

    Also, I don’t know about you but it seems every team shoots lights out against THE SPURS. Its actually kind of annoying. Do you think the Hornets are going to shoot like that in STAPELS CENTER? NO.

    It’s hard to get into a rhythm when you are constantly inbounding the Ball because the other team can’t miss.

    And what’s with the MAnu hate all of a sudden. Manu is inconsistent. He actually had a good game. Geez, he isn’t going to shoot 100%

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