* Read postgame quotes in Hornets.com's Courtside Live blog
It took nine games, but the Hornets finally looked the way many skeptics expected they would during this postseason: overwhelmed and outplayed by a more experienced opponent. Whether it was shooting, defending, rebounding you name it San Antonio held the upper hand over New Orleans in Game 4, tying the series at two apiece.
The Spurs built an 85-61 lead through three quarters. Hornets coach Byron Scott responded by sitting the entire starting five at the outset of the fourth period. Scott subbed in Mike James, Ryan Bowen and Hilton Armstrong, none of whom had appeared yet.
New Orleans now has 48 hours to figure out how it can return to the high level of play it showed in Game 1 and 2. Tuesdays Game 5 will begin in the New Orleans Arena at 8:30 p.m.
Im curious to see how this young Hornets team responds (in Game 5), TNT analyst Reggie Miller said on the air late in Sundays defeat. How are they going to take this (one-sided defeat)? San Antonio has put something in the minds of the upstart Hornets.
San Antonio connected on 51.3 percent of its shots, while New Orleans only barely edged over the 40 percent mark by scoring a few garbage-time buckets late. The Spurs did a tremendous job on New Orleans second- and third-leading scorers David West and Peja Stojakovic, who combined to go 7-for-24 from the field for 16 points. The Hornets probably need about twice that output from those two primary weapons in order to have a chance to prevail at the AT&T Center. Despite New Orleans missing 49 shots Sunday, it only registered 10 offensive rebounds. Overall, San Antonio posted a 45-36 advantage on the boards.
"I thought we went back to some of our bad habits from earlier in the season," assessed the often brutally honest Scott during his postgame press conference. "Where we missed some easy shots, and let that dictate how hard we play on the defensive end. We went back to being a little bit experienced. I thought we didn't match (the Spurs') effort. The Spurs are kicking our butts from a physical standpoint."
"We got beat in all aspects of the game tonight," Chris Paul said. "They beat us to every loose ball. We looked pretty bad. We've got to bounce back."
Chris Paul: He tried to carry the offense, finishing with 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting, but on this forgettable night for the Hornets, even he displayed things we haven't seen in a long time. Uncharacteristically, he committed four turnovers, including two miscues where he got out of control with the dribble and lost the ball in traffic, while quickly advancing the ball into the frontcourt. For a second straight game, Tony Parker got into the lane on penetration early and often. Parker had 21 points, including 18 in the first half.
Morris Peterson: Like many of his teammates, most of the time when he had a chance to finish at the rim Sunday, he couldnt convert. He canned two three-pointers, his lone makes from the field among eight attempts.
Peja Stojakovic: The tone was set for his night when he had a couple layup attempts roll off the rim in the first few minutes. The Hornets need him to bounce back in a big way during Game 5 after he went 3-for-9 in Game 4 over 33 minutes.
David West: A combination of hesitating when he was open at 18 to 20 feet, along with a few forces of tough shots, led to a 4-for-15 game.
Tyson Chandler: This was a frustrating game all the way around for the 7-1 center, who picked up his fifth foul at 8:39 of the third quarter and had to sit down. He did not attempt a shot in 25 minutes, while grabbing four rebounds. Hes one of multiple Hornets whose production in the two games in San Antonio was completely different than what he provided in New Orleans.
Jannero Pargo: A rare positive from Game 4 was Pargos 3-for-8 from three-point range. Overall he was 4-for-14 and scored 11 points in 18 minutes. As weve mentioned here before, Pargo has played tangibly better at home than on the road this season. The Hornets hope the trend continues Tuesday.
Julian Wright: A mixed bag that including two turnovers, four points, a highlight-reel dunk and four rebounds, over 19 minutes.
Bonzi Wells: Had six points and five rebounds, tallying four of those points in the fourth quarter with the Hornets down 20-plus.
Melvin Ely: Played the final four seconds of the second quarter, in order to prevent Chandler from picking up an extra foul. He ended up fouling Tim Duncan on a three-point play.
Hilton Armstrong: Played the entire fourth quarter. Sure, the outcome was decided by then, but this was by far the best hes looked in the postseason. Finished with nine points and six rebounds. He scored baskets on a nice post-up move, a dunk and a mid-range jumper.
Mike James: Was 1-for-5 from the field with an assist.
Ryan Bowen: Grabbed two boards and had an assist in 12 minutes.