Game 7 recap: Spurs 91, Hornets 82

Monday, May 19, 2008
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

* Postgame notes, quotes from both teams in's Courtside Live blog

There will be plenty of time over the next few months to think back on how special this 2007-08 truly was for the city of New Orleans, for the Hornets organization and for everyone who had some part in this season, whether it was players, coaches or fans. For now, Monday’s result was a tough one to take.

With a chance to advance to the conference finals for the first time in the team’s 20-year history, New Orleans played perhaps its poorest offensive game of the postseason. The Hornets were respectable at the defensive end against the defending champions, but a major offensive letdown resulted in a 40.2 percent night from the field. Give San Antonio credit for doing a great job of limiting New Orleans’ transition game and forcing the Hornets to work for every basket – the first time that happened in the four series games played in the Big Easy. But if the Hornets choose to watch the film of this game, they will rue the stream of open shots they missed – looks that seemed to find the bottom of the net for the vast majority of the 2007-08 season.

“We felt we played solid enough defensively,” said David West, who went 8-for-19 and scored a team-high 20 points. “We just hit a bad spurt where we couldn’t make any baskets.”

“We defended well,” echoed Chris Paul, who was 8-for-18 for 18 points, eight rebounds, and 14 assists. “We didn’t make shots when we needed to. We fought back in the fourth quarter to put ourselves in a great situation, but once again, we came up short (on offense).”

New Orleans put a huge scare into San Antonio after falling behind by a near-insurmountable 15-point margin through three quarters. But Jannero Pargo piled up 16 fourth-quarter points, pulling the Hornets within 83-80 at 1:35. He had a chance to tie with a three-pointer from the left corner moments later, but just missed. San Antonio regained a two-possession edge on a Tony Parker jumper with 50 seconds left.

Game 7 key questions

* Fan guide in's Courtside Live blog

A few things to watch for in Monday’s Game 7, which is being described as the the biggest in Hornets franchise history by pretty much everyone:

1) Does health have any effect on David West and Tyson Chandler?
In terms of Chandler, it’s safe say he’s 100 percent. After Jannero Pargo fell to the floor in hilarious fashion during Sunday’s practice, Chandler proceeded to mimic Pargo’s tumble. Obviously, if the 7-foot-1 center was injured or concerned about his toe/foot, we wouldn’t have seen him joking around on the court and intentionally falling onto his back to tease his friend and former Chicago Bulls teammate. In West’s case, he said Sunday he believes he is close to 100 percent. The three-day layoff appears to have helped him alleviate some of the soreness in his back. Let’s be honest: He scored 38 points with this same back injury in Game 5. He won’t be using it as an excuse if he has a subpar Game 7.

2) How does the return home impact role players?

Byron Scott said Sunday that he expects some of the team’s perimeter guys to play better, simply because they are in the New Orleans Arena in Game 7. Aside from Game 5, Peja Stojakovic has been spectacular at home during the playoffs. Morris Peterson has two double-digit scoring games in this series, both in New Orleans. Jannero Pargo has actually been better on the road than at home during the playoffs, but that defies how he’d performed throughout the regular season.
Speaking of role players, Scott sounded like he doesn’t want to attempt to play the starters as many minutes as he did in the first half of Game 6. In that game, Chandler, West and Chris Paul played virtually the entire opening 24 minutes (Paul sat out 3 seconds). Scott seemed to acknowledge that going to the bench too much is risky, but tiring out the primary weapons by overusing them is also dangerous. “We can’t play our starters 48 minutes at the level we want to play,” Scott said Sunday.

3) What does Chris Paul have in store for us?

This is the first Game 7 for the MVP runner-up. (By the way, the Hornets actually have more guys with Game 7 experience than most people realize, with Ryan Bowen, Rasual Butler, Mike James, Peterson, Stojakovic, Bonzi Wells and West all having played in at least one). CP has consistently come through with incredible individual performances this season in big spots. I’m sure all Hornets fans are anxiously awaiting getting to see how this emerging superstar reacts to the enormity of this game.