Reinvigorated Hornets Clamp Down on Spurs in 95-88 Win
The New Orleans Hornets came into tonight’s game still hot off their overtime win in Dallas two days before, shutting down the high-flying San Antonio Spurs in front of a raucous crowd at the New Orleans Arena, 95-88.
The Spurs (27-10), were boxed out by a strong New Orleans defensive effort and a yeoman’s effort from Greivis Vasquez and Eric Gordon, who combined for 38 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds. Vasquez recorded his tenth double-double of the season, and Gordon put up 24 points, 8 of those in the final quarter.
“There is something building here,” said Hornets Head Coach Monty Williams during his postgame press conference. However, he cautioned that it’s still early in the season, and the Hornets’ 9-25 record is nothing to be excited about. “But to hold this team to 88 points is a great sign for our defense,” he continued. “When you can defend with that kind of effort and education, that, to me, builds the kind of confidence that is going to carry on into the future.”
The Hornets took an 8 point lead into the halftime break, 49-41, on the back of 26 points in the paint and a grinding defense that held San Antonio to 43.2% shooting. New Orleans forced 11 turnovers in the first half and outrebounded the visitors 21-17.
Ryan Anderson, who came into tonight averaging as high as eight 3-pointers a game, sank just one long ball in the first half in 15:06 minutes off the bench, but he closed out the night with a total of 13 points. Anderson also racked up 5 rebounds, 2 steals and an assist, contributing to a stellar combined New Orleans rebounding effort — the team recorded a total of 42 rebounds on the night.
New Orleans came out of the break with an atypical energy that’s been lacking for much of this season in the 3rd quarter, but has been slowly coming into focus as the team coalesces around their stars. However, despite the focus, they became frustrated by fouls, and San Antonio finished the 3rd quarter with a 10-3 run, bringing the Spurs within two possessions, 70-65.
The Hornets kept ahead in the 4th, breaking a San Antonio run in the final period with back-to-back 3s, and shooting 58% from the field. With 28.2 seconds left to play, Monty Williams cleared the bench, the crowd roared to its feet, and the Hornets put away their second win in a row.
Eric Gordon is now 3-1 since his return, including wins in both games he has started. Tonight Gordon scored 24 points off of 9-22 shooting. It’s the second time in five appearances Gordon has scored 20-plus points.
“It was a huge win for us. I thought we played great together,” said Hornets Guard Greivis Vasquez after the game. “Eric [Gordon] is a great dude and a great player. He’s really going to help us. It was a great team effort and a great win for us.”
“They’ve got a closer now,” Spurs’ Forward Stephen Jackson said in the locker room after the game. “He took the game over and was going to work at the end of the game, doing what he wanted.”
Tonight’s win snapped a Hornets six-game losing streak to the Spurs. San Antonio leads the series 1-2 this season.
Jason Smith seemed to reaggrevate his shoulder going for a block against Kawhi Leonard’s baseline dunk in the middle of the 4th. Smith injured himself in similar fashion on Dec. 12, when he blocked a dunk by Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant.
The Hornets will host the Houston Rockets (20-14) on Wednesday, the second game of a three-game homestand. They will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
With additional reporting by Adam Carry.