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Hornets' Late Defensive Collapse Enables Spurs' 106-102 Win

by Norris Ortolano

The New Orleans Hornets' unfortunate trend this season, even sometimes in victory, has been mid-to-late game defensive breakdowns that generally spell doom. On Wednesday night, it was Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs who took advantage of Hornets miscues, slicing and dicing their way to a 106-102 victory. The loss drops the Hornets to 14-28 on the season, with only one win in the last three.



It is be easy to take moral victories out of this game. The Hornets outplayed the Spurs for the first two quarters, hitting 62 percent of their shots in the first half, and were even able to keep the game close near the end when things looked as though they may get out of hand. The Spurs were 33-11 on the season and have only dropped two home games all year. However, our opponents were not only missing two key players in Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard to injury, but even Head Coach Gregg Popovich was missing with an undisclosed illness.   


Eric Gordon seemed to benefit the most from these advantages, scoring a team high 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting. But all of those points were scored in the first half. In fact, Gordon only attempted two shots in the second half, which is one of two head-scratching storylines on the night.


The other was the dominance of Tony Parker late in the game over Greivis Vasquez. It is no secret that Parker can drive and pass on most guards tasked with defending him, so giving the job to a slow 6 ft. 6 in point guard leaves you wondering what Coach Monty Williams is thinking sometimes.


Offensively, Vasquez was his usual efficient self with 15 points, 11 assists, and five rebounds. But Parker thrashed him on the other end of the court, scoring 24 points and getting 13 dimes.


What was good, though, was seeing the scoring spread around, as opposed to Gordon or Ryan Anderson having a much higher point total than the rest of the team. Five players ended the game in double figures, three of which came off the bench. To go along with Vasquez and Gordon, Anderson had 16, Jason Smith had 13, and Brian Roberts added 10.


As hard as this loss is to swallow, this is still a team that’s won seven of the last 10 and is getting better as the season progresses. Patience will still be needed from the fans to allow the players to gain experience balling with one another and to observe the development of its young stars, Austin Rivers and Anthony Davis. Neither of the rookies had a significant impact on Wednesday’s game, but could be the cornerstones of a deep playoff run in the future.  


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