Bench Shows Up, Spurs Win!

In what may have been the biggest game thus far in the 2008 playoffs, San Antonio’s bench finally showed some production.  Bucking the trend of the second round, the Spurs won on the road, in game 7.
1Q  The game would open evenly amongst both teams, but would show Duncan being double, and occasionally triple teamed, as his teammates missed open 3s.  Soon enough, New Orleans would be making easy baskets, and San Antonio would be giving up easy defensive boards.  The Spurs would prove to be making questionable passes in traffic, leading to several turnovers.  Their luck would soon change though.  Kurt Thomas entered the game, and quickly grabbed several offensive rebounds, and Ginobili would foul Chris Paul at the quarter’s end.  He would escape being charged with a foul, however, as it happened just after the quarter had ended.
2Q  The Spurs would continue making silly mistakes, but their role players were PRODUCING, even as the Hornets bench was scoreless.  It would continue in the Spurs favor as their careless turnovers were matched with the Hornets careless turnovers.  Unfortunately, New Orleans would grab the momentum with 5 minutes to play, as Stojakovich started to get into a shooting groove.  Udoka would display endless energy though, as he ran end to end and side to side, showing great hustle and good defense.  The Spurs would turn it around as Ginobili ended the run with a 3, followed by a fast break by The French Flash.  Ginobili would be on fire from beyond the arc, building up a lead, before CP3 weaved around  the defense to make a buzzer beating layup.  Going into the half, San Antonio had a 9 point lead, which was good, but their 10 turnovers would be a bad sign.
3Q  In the third, Chandler was playing some great defense, making things difficult for Duncan.  However, West would show less aggression, as he started shooting more outside shots.  Parker would seem to be a little scared to take a charge, as Paul got by him too easily at times, but the Spurs finally played a good third quarter anyways.  With 4:40 in the period, Duncan would go to the bench with his 4th foul, and a 10 point lead.  It worked out well, as Finley and Horry combined to make 3 huge shots from long range.  San Antonio would come out with a 15 point lead.
4Q  San Antonio would need every one of those 15 points, as New Orleans slowly chipped away at the lead.  When Pargo made a floater, it became apparent that he had found his shot again.  Udoka would stave off the run with a big hustle play, coming up with an offensive board, and getting a steal right away at the other end.  Not long after, Paul would take a shot to the face off of an offensive foul by Ginobili.  Manu would make ammends quickly, as he drew Chandler’s second foul.  With 4:15 in the game, Duncan would pick up his 5th foul, but Pop would leave him in.  Pargo would hit a 3 to cut the lead to 6, and for a few moments, the game would have a foul on every play.  San Antonio would relapse for a moment, giving up gobs of rebounds, leading to the Hornets slashing another 3 points off of the lead, from another Pargo 3.  With 50 seconds to play, Parker would push the lead back to 5.  Paul would miss a layup, and immediately foul Ginobili, picking up his fifth.  Manu would make 2 free throws, the first of several as he would be fouled in the closing moments of the game.  With 25 seconds to play Paul would foul out, a first in his NBA career.  San Antonio would finally win in New Orleans, 91-82, and shall go on to face the Lakers, in the land of milk and ‘hunnies.’
Review  West’s back didn’t seem to bother him, but his impact on the game dwindled after the first quarter.  San Antonio was plagued by turnovers, but was able to overcome it, as their bench showed up with huge plays, yielding 18 rebounds (8 offensively) and 22 points.  With their bench stepping up in every way they hadn’t over the previous 6 games, San Antonio had all the punch they needed to put them over the top.  Paul and Chandler had solid games, West had a great first quarter, but Pargo showed up just a little too late to recover from the steady play of the San Antonio bench over the game’s duration.  Pargo also seemed to dominate the ball at the end of the fourth, yielding nothing on a few plays that Paul probably could have milked a basket out of.
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Staples Center  We all know the history of the Spurs and Lakers.  Hopefully, San Antonio will be able to wrap this series up quickly, winning the first two in LA, slapping the ‘easy button,’ and finishing it with two at home.
Highlights
Duncan:  16 pts, 14 boards   Giniboli:  26 pts, 5 boards, 5 assists, 10-11 free throws   Parker:  17 pts, 5 assists   Udoka:  8 pts, 4 boards, 2 steals, lots of hustle plays   Thomas:  5 offensive boards
Paul:  18 pts, 8 boards, 14 assists, 5 steals   West:  20 pts, 9 boards   Chandler:  13 pts, 15 boards   Pargo:  18 pts, 4 boards, 2 steals

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.

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