The San Antonio Spurs (14-9) return to action tonight on the second night of a back-to-back after overcoming a Houston Rockets 18-point lead to win 99-91 after Tim Duncan’s 25 points and 31 minutes on Wednesday. Tonight will be the Spurs’ fourth game in five nights, and that could mean Duncan may not play any minutes tonight.
In their first meeting of the season on January 23, the Spurs barely defeated the Hornets 104-102 in New Orleans behind a season high 28-points from Duncan, and a career high 17-assists from Tony Parker.
The Hornets arrive in San Antonio from a 17-point thrashing at the hands of the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. The Spurs are 11-1 at home, so New Orleans’ chances of stopping their own three game losing streak doesn't fare well.
Case No. 24: New Orleans Hornets
Record: 4-18. Road: 2-7. Last 10 games: 1-9
Commendable areas for the Hornets
Offensive boarding: The Hornets are ranked 9th in the NBA in offensive rebounding as the team grabs 11.7 offensive boards per game. The Spurs saw how tough it is to close out an opponent as the Rockets out-rebounded them on the offensive end12-to-8 for 17-second chance points Wednesday.
Defense: The Hornets are still playing solid defense by holding their opponents to 93.4 points per game which is ranked 9th in the league. It’s a shame the Hornets’ lack of offense is what’s held them to only four wins.
Deficient areas for the Hornets
The ENTIRE Offense: I’m just going to break this down in list format so you can see how bad the Hornets’ offense struggles.
Three point makes: 30th – 3.5 per game
Three point percentage: 30th – 28% 3PT
Scoring: 28th - 88.1 points per game
Field goal attempts: 25th – 78.4 shots per game
Assists: 24th – 18.8 assists per game
Field goal makes: 22nd – 31.5 makes per game
Ouch! As you can see, the Hornets’ offense is atrocious in almost every category. Their defense can only keep them in a game for so long, but it’s evident their lack of offense has resulted in so many losses. Keep in mind though; the Hornets have only scored over 100 points twice this season. Their first time came against the Spurs.
Top 5-players for the Hornets
Jarrett Jack – 16.1 points, 6.9 assists, 45% FG, 13.6 FGA
Carl Landry – 12 points, 4.7 rebounds, 9.1 FGA
Trevor Ariza – 10.2 points, 1.6 steals, 5.4 rebounds, 10.2 FGA
Emeka Okafor – 9.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 7.3 FGA
Marco Belinelli – 9.2 points, 33% 3PT, 8.9 FGA, 4 3PT FGA
Here’s another fun bit about the Hornets, they have 9.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks sitting on the trade block waiting to get scooped up by a contender in Chris Kaman.
Regardless if Duncan sits or plays, when you combine the Spurs’ offensive spurts at home with the Hornets’ two wins on the road, you have to think this is an easy Spurs win.
The Hornets just don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Spurs’ depth off the bench. The Hornets will face a fresh Kawhi Leonard (8 minutes vs. Houston), Tiago Splitter (17 minutes vs. Houston), and DeJuan Blair (19 minutes vs. Houston). Parker, Duncan, Gary Neal, and Matt Bonner might be the only four veterans a bit winded after Wednesday, but the Spurs still have Jefferson, James Anderson, and Cory Joseph ready to take on heavy minutes.
Even when it looks like the Spurs’ bench is going to have a rough night as they showed with 8 points on 3-of-15 shooting in the first half against Houston, they came out aggressive in the second half to post 33 points.