An all-too-familiar script played out in what turned into the Hornets fourth consecutive defeat, a streak that has proven extremely cost in their pursuit of a postseason berth. New Orleans quickly fell behind this time trailing by 10 after a quarter fought back into the game, but ultimately couldnt overcome its early deficit. The Hornets again received big performances from David West and their two standout rookies, but little offensive production from the rest of the roster.
As a result, New Orleans (31-32) dropped below the .500 mark for the first time since early January. As recently as four days ago, the Hornets had the Spurs within their sights in the Western Conference playoff chase, but San Antonio (35-24) capped a 4-0 head-to-head sweep and is now a full six games ahead (seven if you factor in the tiebreaker they've sealed).
West (22 points, 11-for-19 shooting), Darren Collison (32 points, 14-for-19) and Marcus Thornton (18 points, 8-for-15) kept the Hornets within arms length for most of the game, but the balance of the rotation produced 19 points on 8-for-30 shooting.
On the other end of the floor, New Orleans was unable to prevent San Antonio from scoring in the paint or from three-point range. The Spurs shot a blistering 60 percent from three-point range (12-for-20) and were able to get the basket repeatedly for layups. Fleet-footed Spurs point guard Tony Parker, for example, scored all 14 of his first-half points on seven point-blank field goals at the rim.
More bad breaks on the injury front, though hopefully neither of these will carry over to Mondays home tilt against Golden State. Thornton left the game in the fourth quarter with an upper back strain and did not return, after another nasty spill to the floor at the defensive end. Aaron Gray was limited to three minutes of action prior to exiting due to a lower G.I. infection.
Eighth-place Portland (37-27) does not play again until Sunday at Denver, an ESPN game, so New Orleans will remain 5 1/2 games behind the Trail Blazers for the next roughly 48 hours.