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Game Thread #82: San Antonio Spurs Vs. New Orleans Hornets


This is it, guys: the last game of the regular season. We've had highs, lows, lowers and lowests, but we're still battling for a third seed in the Bestern Conference while the Suns become the third team in NBA history to get 45 wins and still fail to make the playoffs.

As far as I can tell, we can get the third seed if we win and Houston loses, the fourth seed if Spurs and Rockets both win and Portland loses, and the fifth if the other cases. But don't qoute me on this - if you're in doubt, just go reread Graydon Gordian's explanation (EDIT: or his new article at 48 Minutes of Hell). Honestly, I don't care much - the playoffs are upon us, and I'm sure I can rationalize whatever happens and find a positive outlook for just about every situation: I'm that good at deluding myself. What I want is for our guys to play with passion, cohesion, chemistry - magic. I wish for everything to fall in its proper place, I wish for Pop's secret plans to come to fruition, for the team to peak at the right moment, for Manu to shake off his cast and descend on a lightbeam onto the court, pat me on the back and tell me everything's going to be okay.

timvp from SpursTalk wrote this a few days ago:

Since the All-Star break, Duncan's statistics illustrate his health problems. In 22 contests, he's averaging 16.4 points and 10.6 rebounds in 30.5 minutes per game. Although far from encouraging numbers, this isn't Duncan's maiden journey into injury-related struggles following the All-Star break.

Exhibit A is Duncan's 2005-06 campaign. Following the All-Star break, his numbers were 33.1 minutes, 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Exhibit B is Duncan's 2004-05 season. That year, he averaged 28.3 minutes, 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per game following the All-Star break. In 2005-06, he was hampered by a severe case of plantar fasciitis, while 2004-05 saw him slow due to multiple ankle injuries.

What else do those two years have in common? The answer: a dominant Duncan in the playoffs. In 2006 postseason, he averaged 32.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game in the series against the Dallas Mavericks. In 2005, as Spurs fans are well aware, the Spurs were able to win the championship with Duncan averaging 23.6 points and 12.4 rebounds in the postseason.

Is that relevant? Maybe. Honestly, I don't remember Timmy looking so stiff coming into the playoffs in those years. And you know what? Once again, I don't care. That's damn right sanguine, and inspires me to gather the remnants of my midseason hopes and prepare myself for the playoff battles to come. I'm aware that the chances of beating the Lakers as we are right now are virtually nil, and the Cavaliers look as unbeatable to me as I'm sure they do to you. But guys, right now we're Indy looking at the unforgiving chasm and muttering about the Step of Faith, tricked by the lazy perspective and not realizing that just moving to the side a bit might discover a freakin' stone bridge. Let's dare enough to become that statistical anomaly that will give Hollinger palpitations for years to come. Let's be lead turning into gold spontaneously, let's be that one empirical value that ruins a perfectly good regression line, let's play out of our minds and into the history books. Let us aim for the moon, folks.

And if we ultimately fail, we'll be back next season, healthy and ready for our thumb ring. There's still wind in our sails, and FSM willing, we'll soon prove that to the league - and to ourselves.

Join us after the break for the last hack preview of the regular season:

Game Time: 7:00 Spurs Time,
9:00 pm Argentina
2:00 am Palestine, Egypt, 8:00 pm CET
9:00 am Perth, Japan, 8:00 am Philippines
10:00 am Guam
8:00 EDT, 6:00 MDT, 5:00 PDT
Officials: TBA

Tony Parker
Roger Mason
Tim Duncan
Kurt Thomas
Mad Eye
Michael Finley

Chris Paul
Rasual Butler
Got nothing
Melvin Ely
Their JV
David West
Peja Stojakovic
images via
27-13 Home 28-13
26-15 Road 21-19
97.0 Offense 95.8
93.2 Defense 94.1
46.5 FG% 45.7
38.7 3-pt% 36.4
76.1 FT% 80.8
41.0 Rebounds 39.8
11.7 TOs 12.6
6-4 Last 10 5-5
W 3 Streak L 1


  • Point Guard - Two of the three best PGs in this league. We won't shut down Paul, but if Parker can match him basket for basket, then we have a good chance.
  • Off Guard - Mason has looked impressive lately. He's the Mason we learned to love early in the season. Is he not able to play with Manu? Does he need more minutes to get in rhytm? The solid rotation is helping him get comfortable with his role? I have no idea, but we need this in the playoffs.
  • Center - One good game, then a not-so-good game. That's Timmy's pattern lately, and as he goes the Spurs go. Then again Melvin Ely is their center.
  • Power Forward - I'm not sure whether Kurt will start. He deserves it, though, and should be getting way more minutes that he's receiving lately. His consistency and rebounding rate are impressive, and he might just be able to defend West effectively. ...Okay, that's not true. But he can't do worse than Bonner.
  • Small Forward - Don't even feel like writing about these guys.
  • Bench - So I say "rocketship" and no one likes it, but everyone's eating up Hipuks' "hovercraft". I guess genius is in the details. Regardless, Gooden's the best thing to happen to our bench since Hill peed on Pop's razor.
  • Coach - Pop wants to win these playoffs. I think he really does - and I wholeheartedly approve. Why does he think benching win is necessary to win? ...Eh... Have you guys noticed SiMA is MIA?
  • Intangibles - We have a 3 game streak going on now, and finishing with a win against a playoff team would be important even if we weren't in the middle of a seeding battle. The Hornets, in the meantime, come from a bad loss to the Rockets. I hope our guys will want to match that, and more.
  • Mojo - I was going to give us the edge, because hey - we're playing the NOOCH. But then I realized that Matthew Powell was right, and that one loss versus Denver made all the difference. Matthew, come back and type an "I told you so"! How's that for karma?
  • Winners - Let's PUT THEM IN THE GROUND.

Keys To The Game

  • West - He's the one guy that seemingly always scores at will against us. Bonner rolls over and dies every time they're paired up, and he's too fast for Kurt. I'm not sold on Gooden's D, but what's there to lose?
  • Timmy - Psss, Tim... it's the playoffs. They're here.
  • Spurs basketball - That's what I want to see tonight. Tony making his Js and acrobatic layups, driving at breakneck speed into the paint and kicking it out to our sharpshooters; Tim with his mighty bank short and short running hook, his sure hands grabbing rebound after rebound, his D locking down the paint on our end; the extra pass, the clever play, and even Bowen drilling a corner 3. And I also want nouveau Spurs basketball: Gooden's feet actually leaving the ground, skying for rebounds and tip-ins; Bonner being useful; Mace shooting off-balance with confidence and just the right amount of crazy, for once actually not stepping on the 3-point line.

Some other reading

Hornets fans are pretty active on the interwebs. Let's see:

At The Hive (The SB Nation blog.Not that active, but it has a boatload of widgets.)
Hornets247 (TrueHoop Network blog. Never read it, but recently he wrote: "In a lot of ways, Luis Scola is David West with long hair to accentuate flopping skills." So yeah... not planning to.)
Hornets Hype (Just to prove there's life beyond the networks... sorta.)

Other things of possible interest

Game feeds

Check this game thead at gametime for specific links to good quality feeds. If you arrive late in the game, there game feed links are usually among the first 50 posts of the thread.
BitTorrent Davka (A torrent site where you will find most of the latest games in the league. Bookmark.)

IMPORTANT: If you're listening to a foreign feed, just mute it and open this link ( with WinAmp or a similar program. Then pause the audio feed until it's synchronized with the video, and voilà.

Recap: We'll probably have a quick cap. But wouldn't it be cool if someone wrote an actual recap for the last game of the season? (Not that I will... I'm so lazy.)

So there you go. Who's going to take that step with me?

Confidently gazing ahead

EDIT: Graydon Gordian points out that our three possible first round opponents are the Rockets, the Mavs and the Blazers. I added a poll to check the PTR pulse.


Our three possible first round opponents are the Blazers, the Mavs and the Rockets. Who would you prefer to face?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    (23 votes)
  • 56%
    (125 votes)
  • 9%
    (20 votes)
  • 24%
    Sun-oops, sorry, never mind
    (54 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now