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San Antonio at Charlotte, Final Score: Spurs win it for Timmy, rally past Hornets 104-103

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The Spurs opened their three-game road trip with a win in Tim Duncan’s head coaching debut.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

With Gregg Popovich out for personal reasons, Tim Duncan was named head coach for this game not long before tip-off. The even-more undermanned Spurs initially appeared too tired to compete in this one, but in a repeat of their last match up with the Charlotte Hornets, they came alive after getting down by as much as 17 in the first half and rallied back to win 104-103.

Dejounte Murray led six Spurs in double figures with 21 points on 9-14 shooting (3-5 from three), while Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 21 points,

Observations

  • Any evidence out there that Evan Fournier isn’t Cody and Caleb Martin’s long lost big brother?
  • The starters were completely asleep on defense to start the game, and shots were falling short: key signs of a shorthanded, tired team on the second night of a back-to-back that included a loss of an hour-and-a-half of recuperation time, not to mention the travel time to get halfway across the country from San Antonio to Charlotte at 3 AM. They were outscored 36-19 in the first quarter while shooting just 30% and allowing the Hornets to shoot 54%.
  • Keldon Johnson got some early minutes, likely in place of a sick Marco Belinelli. He brought some of his signature energy on defense while scoring 7 points early in the second quarter as the Spurs attempted to get back in the game. His energy rubbed off, and the Spurs managed to claw their way back to within single digits at halftime. Derrick White also played a role in that with 10 first-half points, including back-to-back threes and a block.
  • In the first half, Patty Mills became the 23rd player in NBA history to hit 1,000 threes with one franchise. The other Spur in that group is Manu Ginobili.
  • Tim Duncan the locker room energizer? The Spurs looked much more energetic out of halftime, opening on a 20-9 run to take their first lead of the game, led by nine points from Murray. The teams played mostly even the rest of the quarter, but the Spurs still came out on top after three, 77-76.
  • At least Timmy has some guts when it comes to the Coach’s Challenge. Although he lost, he challenged a border-line charge call on a made basket by White with over 9 minutes left in the game. James Borrego also used his challenge in the third quarter to no avail. While I understand the logic in saving it late in close games, I also don’t mind coaches throwing a little caution to the wind every now and then. Even relatively early plays can be game-changers.
  • It was another down-to-the-wire nail biter, as the Hornets closed the game on a 6-0 run after the Spurs had pushed the lead to 7 with just over 2 min left. In shades from their win over the Magic, the Spurs botched their final offensive possession, and it appeared Rozier had an open layup for the win with 4 seconds left, but he passed it up, the Spurs intercepted his pass, and the Hornets never fouled as the Spurs held on for the win.
  • I spent the break between the third and fourth quarters watching this. So heartwarming and a reminder that life is about much more than sports, but sports are also an amazing respite.

For the Hornets fans’ perspective, visit At the Hive.

The are headed to Brooklyn next to take on the Nets on Friday. Tip-off will be at 6:30 PM CT on FSSW.