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Old 01-26-06, 02:09 AM
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Article: Duncan directs Spurs past offensively challenged Hornets

http://http://sports.espn.go.com/nba...meId=260125003

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A solid defensive performance by the San Antonio Spurs earned some extra rest for his sore foot.


Duncan scored 17 points and the Spurs handed New Orleans its worst defeat in Oklahoma City with a 84-68 win over the Hornets on Wednesday night.


The Hornets' sputtering offense set a season low in scoring for the second straight game and gave the standing-room only crowd of 19,289 little to cheer about.


"It was a surprising night. Defensively, we were solid," Duncan said. "We were very good. They were driving and jumping up into us a whole lot. I thought we did a great job of keeping them back and not giving them fouls."


Tony Parker had 14 points and Nick Van Exel added 13, including a season-high four 3-pointers, as the Spurs pulled away to a 15-point first-half lead.


Chris Paul scored the final six points of the half to get the Hornets back within 42-32, but San Antonio pulled away again in the second half.


Parker's steal was the spark to an 11-2 run for the Spurs that put the game away in the third quarter. It led to a fast break that resulted in a technical foul shot for Brent Barry and two free throws by Duncan. By the time Nazr Mohammed hit two free throws with 1:34 left in the third quarter, the Spurs were up 62-40.


The lead reached 80-54 before reserves helped the Hornets avoid a series of disappointing franchise lows.


Duncan played only 24½ minutes in San Antonio's 104-76 win at Charlotte a night earlier and was on the floor for 32 minutes against the Hornets. With the game in hand, he was able to rest the final 5:30.


"I think it's a great situation for everyone, especially myself," said Duncan, who's averaging a team-high 35.7 minutes. "I felt good tonight. I felt like I was moving pretty well and not in a lot of pain, so it was good."


David West and Rasual Butler each scored 15 to lead the Hornets, who were 22-for-71 (31 percent) from the field. Paul added 14 points.


New Orleans' largest prior defeat at the Ford Center was a 14-point loss to Boston on Dec. 7.


It was the Hornets' lowest scoring output since an 83-67 defeat Dec. 17, 2004, also to San Antonio. They tied a franchise low with seven assists and narrowly avoided all-time lows for points (65) and field-goal percentage (30 percent) against a Spurs team ranked No. 1 in the NBA in field-goal defense.


"Just like a lot of young teams do, if they're not making shots, then they start to get down on themselves instead of trying to pick up on the other end and make other things happen," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.


"There's going to be games when you don't make shots. That cannot make you not defend or not hustle or not play hard on the other end of the floor. You've got to learn that in this league, OK, my shot's not falling, I can do other things to stay involved in this game and stay on the floor."


The Hornets were held to 78 points on Monday at Boston, but that came two days after their highest-scoring game of the season in a 109-98 win at New York.


"You just bounce back. I promise you if you let this game get to you too much, you won't be able to perform in the next game," Paul said. " ... You just take that game as it is and get ready for the next one. Shoot the same shots. Hopefully, they'll go in."


Duncan, who matched a season low with 11 points when San Antonio lost in Oklahoma City last month, scored six points as the Spurs got out to a 13-2 start and never trailed. Van Exel finished the first quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Spurs a 23-11 lead and effectively eliminate any impact from the crowd.


"It's huge on the road," Duncan said. "Obviously, you don't want to get down because all of a sudden the crowd is on top of you and teams play with a lot of energy."


The Hornets made only 3 of 17 shots in their lowest-scoring opening period of the season and were never closer than nine points after that.


Game notes
Guard Manu Ginobili (sprained right ankle) and forward Robert Horry (right abdominal strain) did not travel with the Spurs. Coach Gregg Popovich said it's possible they could return for Saturday's game against Minnesota. "I wouldn't say a good chance, just a chance," he said. ... In the first quarter, Van Exel connected from the right wing for his 1,500th career 3-pointer. He and Seattle's Ray Allen are the only active players with 1,500 in their career. Van Exel leads all active players with 4,214 attempts from 3-point range.


________________________________________________

I didn't realize that NVE made his 1500 3-pointer during this game. Good for Nick. Based on quotes, Timmy sounds like his foot did not hurt tonight.
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Old 01-26-06, 07:32 AM
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A solid defensive game by the Spurs. They never lacked for intensity during the whole game. Perhaps this is a good sign for the upcoming road trip and also for the rest of the year. They get a hungry Wolve's team next, the Wolves are having it rough right now, but it seems they always seem to gear up for the Spurs. I just want to see the team play better and better.
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Old 01-26-06, 10:51 AM
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Minny will be ready to go after sliding out of the top 8 standings with their latest 3 game losing streak.
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