Hornets.com postgame: Spurs 97, Hornets 90

Monday, January 18, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Somehow, the Hornets need to figure out a way to start games more quickly. It's a trend they’ve mostly been able to overcome lately, but one that came back to haunt them today, ending a seven-game home winning streak.

After falling behind by as many as 21 points, New Orleans (21-19) mounted a significant second-half comeback but couldn’t get closer than five, falling to San Antonio (25-15).

Over the past several weeks, the Hornets have made steady progress after their forgettable start to the season, first by consistently beating just about everyone here in NOLA, later by faring noticeably better on the road. Today felt like a step back for the Hornets, though. This was just the Hornets’ fourth home loss of the season in 19 tries. Of their home defeats, this was the first time since mid-November that they were clearly outplayed by their guests for the majority of the contest.

“Never would one game form our evaluations or opinions. I think it showed us areas that we feel we can build on and be successful with," Hornets coach Jeff Bower assessed of the loss. "It showed us some other things we can improve on and hit hard over the next seven days. But no game is going to be our final answer. We know this is a process that we’re working through. It will be until the season is completely over. In the course of the big picture, we know who we played and who we are and we competed with them. We didn’t play well enough to win.”

Bower cited two specific areas that need improvement on defense: free throw attempts allowed and three-point percentage allowed. The Spurs racked up 38 foul shots (only making 24, which helped keep the Hornets in the game) and set the tone by hitting wide-open treys early in the game. San Antonio cooled off later from the beyond the arc, finishing a decent 7-for-18, but the damage had already been done.

"Our bench played outstanding tonight," said Chris Paul, who mirrored the team in playing his best late in the game. "But the starters have to do our part. The bench gave us a huge burst, and that's how we stayed in the game."

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