Spurs 106, Hornets 93 SA: 32-14 (1st in Southwest)
Manu Ginobili dunks on Hilton Armstrong - Jan 31, 2009 (via ChampionSpellor2)
Yes, obviously the story of the game was the Manu Dunk. It's a highlight we can watch over and over again without being bored, like the block on Wade earlier this year, or his dunks over Diop and Yao and his passes to Bonner and Fab last year. It's what he do. We know this.
But aside from Manu's awesomeness (and the theory from my last post held up so far, by the way, his first attempt and make was a layup and he went on to score 22 points) and a rare non-sucky evening from Findog, which you knew would happen in front of Powell, his biggest critic, I think I have to give a shout out to the guy who was probably most integral to the win.
No, this is not a misprint. I'm giving Tony Parker some love.
I think Tony totally kicked Chris Paul's ass Saturday night. No, I'm not crazy. I can read a box score. Paul looked like he was dominant, but really his 38 points were filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing, which come to think of it, is a good way to describe the NOOCH's punkass point guard too.
Yeah Paul scored. Somebody had to for them. But at what cost? He had four piddly assists the whole game. That's not him and that's not the Hornets. I don't know how much credit Tony deserves and how much Pop deserves, but we totally took Paul out of his game by turning him into a chucker and not a playmaker. Look at the box score; Peja Stojakovic got six freaking shots the whole night, and this time he can't use the excuse that Bowen was siccing him the whole night like some rabid guard dog against a prowler. Paul even had four turnovers, giving him an assist to turnover ratio of (give me a minute for the math)... 1.00. Not good.
Now look at Tony. 25 points on 67% shooting, seven assists, and only one turnover. He scored when it was opportune for him to score but never looked to take over the game at the expense of his teammates. When guys like Manu and Fin were hot, they got the ball. Hell, when Matt Bonner was hot, he got the ball. The Hornets had two guys with 20+ shots and no others with even ten. We had five guys with ten or more and no one with 20. That's spreading the ball around and making sure the whole team is dangerous. And Tony even took a charge! In fact, two charges! I feel like I'm going to cry.
To me it's not too hard to figure out why the Hornets are worse this year and it has little to do with Chandler's injury. Paul's sulky, bitter, punk attitude is rubbing off on the whole team, in a negative way. They're arguing every call, their body language is terrible and they think the whole world is out to get them. Paul, who is ironically leading the league in assists, is selfishly bringing the whole team down with his negative thuggish mannerisms and creating a divide between himself and the rest of his teammates. It'd be one thing for Paul to finish with just four assists, but when the whole team has just ten, it tells me that they're a bunch of unhappy, dispirited guys looking out for themselves and not making the extra pass against a Spurs defense that has been anything but dominant this season.
I'm not sure how one player can be both a thug and a shameless flopper at the same time (he really needs to watch videos of Fab, his flopping is so overly theatrical that nobody buys them) while retaining a positive image with the mainstream press, but he's not the first guy to fool the media. I think the problem is that most casual fans just see Paul's highlights on SportsCenter and don't watch him game in and game out. If more people did, they'd be surprised how unsportsmanlike and unlikeable Paul really is.
Me, I'm glad he's not our point guard and I'm glad the Hornets are slowly slipping into irrelevance. The easier the Spurs breeze through the first two rounds the more "juice" Manu and co. will have left for the Lakers.