AP Photo / David J Phillip
After two blowout defeats, the San Antonio Spurs have taken game 3 in San Antonio to pull the series' deficit to 2-1 against CP3 and the N.O. Hornets.
Throughout the early going it looked as if New Orleans was on their way to a sweep of the Spurs. Even at home, they had no answer for Chris Paul's play-making ability and David West knocking down jumpers. As the 2nd half went on, the Spurs began to pull away. Once Chandler picked up his fourth foul and had to leave the game, it became much easier for Ginobili and Parker to get to the rim with no significant shot blocker. Ginobili hit a few threes right after Chandler left as well, breaking the game open for good.
This is the problem with the Hornets, as they lack depth especially a lack of bigs. Bonzi Wells and Melvin Ely had some costly errors in turnovers / poor shots, and their lack of size means they have no deterrent when the enemy gets to the rim (sans Chandler).
Like Game 4 against Dallas, New Orleans will be tested having to secure a win in a veteran opponent's home court. It will be important to get Peja and Morris Peterson involved early on offensively. The team shot 2 / 11 from 3 point land. This is after hitting 10 threes (5 by Peja) in game 2. Meanwhile the Spurs hit 11 threes with Ginobili, Finley and Bowen having at least 3 each. This switch in statistics is typical of a series that switched venues and look for these strengths to continue in Game 4.
We saw a switch on defense and Bowen was guarding and locking down Peja, leaving Parker on Paul to get lit up. But the Spurs were content letting Paul get his, so long as they could limit his support. And you certainly could not ask any more from Chris Paul who so far has 4 turnovers and 34 assists (along with close to 30 points per game).
Chandler got a few dunks, but he really only scores when Paul has him set up for an alley-oop. Their main bench offense comes from Jannero Pargo but he was a paltry 1 of 7 from the floor for 2 points. When Peja / Morris Peterson are not scoring much as starters, it is imperative that at least one member of the bench is having a decent night offensively.
While Parker and Ginobili had terrific, 30+ point nights, Tim Duncan scored a modest 16 points. He did assert his power on defense with 4 blocks and 13 rebounds.
We know the Spurs can recover after a loss, and they proved it in this game. They did not blow out New Orleans like the Hornets blew them out in Game's 1 and 2, but a win is a win and this is Spurs style. Can New Orleans respond? If they do not take game 4 in San Antonio, we are looking at a pressure-packed game 5 in New Orleans. They have not succumbed to the pressure yet but we have not seen them in a close playoff series yet, against a quality opponent like SA (sorry Dallas). Maybe they can take game 4 and ride the wave to Los Angeles, but I have a sneaky suspicion that San Antonio is going to pull this series out in 6 or 7 games. Either way Sunday and the rest of this series is bound to be full of drama between two Western powers.