One of the key parts of the San Antonio Spurs’ offense is the ability to share the ball, drive into the paint, and hit the outside shot.
On Saturday in New Orleans, the Spurs shared the ball (17 assists), drove into the paint (52 points in the paint), but were missing their last element, the shots outside of the paint.
After shooting just 11% (2/19) from behind the three point line, the Spurs were able to hold on to defeat the Hornets 89-86 behind a clutch shot from Danny Green with less than a minute of play remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I thought that they hung in there” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after the game, “we were fortunate.”
The Spurs played without Manu Ginobili, Tiago Splitter, and Gary Neal. The Hornets were also missing a slew of players as Chris Kaman, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, and the suspended Jason Smith were all missing in action.
Tony Parker (12 points, 10 assists) made his return to the court as he led the passing attack for the Spurs and left the scoring up to DeJuan Blair. Blair started the first quarter by scoring 12 of his 23 points in the quarter, but the Hornets lead by Jarrett Jack (27 points) went on a late 18-8 run toward the end of the first quarter. With 4:09 remaining in the first quarter, fresh Austin Toros call-up Justin Dentmon entered the game and scored his first NBA basket. The Spurs lead 23-22 at the end of the first quarter.
Jack, Carl Landry (15 points), and Al Farouq Aminu got the Hornets going in the second quarter as their offense put 26 points on the Spurs, and the Hornets’ defense held the Spurs to shoot 3/10 outside of the paint in the second quarter. Stephen Jackson (14 points) and Blair combined for nine points in the second quarter, but the Hornets took a 48-47 lead into halftime.
Blair started the third quarter by starting his personal 5-0 run as the
Spurs were able to reclaim the lead. Jack would rebound for New Orleans with eight points in the quarter, and Parker would finally get his shot going. The Spurs still struggled shooting from the outside, but were able to take a narrow 73-72 lead into the final quarter.
Both teams stayed within striking distance of each other in the fourth quarter, then with less than a minute remaining in the game and the Spurs barely leading 87-86, Parker passed the ball to Green, who pump faked his defender and swished home an 18-foot jumper.
The Spurs lead 89-86 and Green along with Kawhi Leonard’s defense forced Jack into turning the ball over with 32.7 second remaining. The Spurs would hold on for the close-win on the second night of back-to-back, with one more game remaining on Sunday.
With the win, the Spurs advance to 32-14 on the season, and 13-10 on the road. The team has begun a three game winning streak and will fly home to face the Philadelphia 76ers in the AT&T Center on Sunday.