Hornets (3-0), Spurs (1-1)
It was over when… Chris Paul’s gorgeous crossover dribble and drive around Spurs defender George Hill led to a floating layup and a 97-90 Hornets edge with 27 seconds remaining. New Orleans won for the first time in San Antonio since the division-winning club of 2007-08 routed the Spurs at AT&T Center.
Hornets MVP: Marcus Thornton was superb off the bench, racking up 17 points. The second-year LSU product got rolling in the first half, scoring six quick points during New Orleans’ 26-18 second quarter. As the final buzzer sounded, David West shadow-boxed against Thornton’s chest, congratulating the shooting guard for the crucial contributions during a huge early-season road victory. “Marcus was unbelievable,” Paul said. “I love to see him succeed... and doing well, because I think he gives our team a lot of energy.”
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: There is no column for this in the boxscore, but for the third consecutive game, the Hornets’ coaching staff chose to have Willie Green on the floor for the final minutes of a close contest. As New Orleans hung on for dear life after a 16-point fourth-quarter lead dwindled, the eight-year NBA veteran delivered arguably the biggest hoop of the game, a driving layup at 1:05 to make it 95-90. Green (12 points at Spurs) has also been tough at the defensive end in crunch time, snaring Trevor Ariza’s steal of John Salmons in Wednesday’s win.
The buzz on… New Orleans’ defensive improvement. For a third straight game, the Hornets held a formidable opponent to less than 100 points. One highlight of tonight’s stinginess at that end of the floor was limiting Tim Duncan to just seven points. The Spurs were held to 18 points apiece in the middle quarters, a stretch of game in which the Hornets posted a 59-36 edge. “Our team defense is coming along,” said Monty Williams, who improved to 3-0, beating a Spurs team he once played for and coached. “We’re not there yet, but we’re making improvements.” One of the league’s most porous teams on 'D' in 2009-10, the Hornets already appear to have made noteworthy strides in this category.
Blog question of the night: The Hornets struggled mightily on the road for much of last season, making Saturday’s win at the Spurs arguably their best away from New Orleans since 2008-09 or longer. What was the most enjoyable aspect of this win – which is certain to be an eye-opening one around the NBA – in San Antonio?