Parker's huge first half helps Spurs down HornetsNov 10, 2007 - 5:25 AM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- The New Orleans Hornets are a pretty good team, but they are not the San Antonio Spurs.
Tony Parker scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half and added eight assists as the defending champion Spurs posted a 97-85 victory over the Hornets on Friday.
Tim Duncan added points 24 points and 12 rebounds for San Antonio, which has won eight straight over New Orleans.
"They just don't take a night off," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. "They come to play every single night. If you beat them, it's because you were better than them that night. It's not because they gave it to you."
Chris Paul scored 18 points to go with seven assists for the Hornets, who have lost two straight after going 4-1 to match their best start in franchise history.
"It was a good effort tonight," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "I thought our guys focused really well. They knew the Hornets have been playing well."
Parker, who shot 11-of-19 from the floor, helped the Spurs to 52-45 lead at the break. San Antonio then pulled away, outscoring New Orleans, 29-18, in the third quarter.
"Tony is starting to get his rhythm back," Popovich said. "I didn't play him in the preseason to let him rest from his summer stuff, so he doesn't have all of his conditioning and fitness back yet, but he is starting to feel pretty good, and he made some great moves to the basket tonight."
San Antonio pulled away in the third period, using an 11-3 run to take a 75-56 lead with 3:18 left and lead by 18 points after three quarters. Manu Ginobili led the way with 10 points in the third while Duncan added eight.
Ginobili finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
"We are a veteran team, so there was no panic," Parker said. "They played good, they made a run, and so we tried to play good defense and made a few stops in a row. We came back, and it was good to get the lead by halftime. In the third quarter, we had a better approach and we played better."
The Hornets cut the deficit to 10 points at 89-79 with 6:03 left in the fourth period, but never seriously threatened.
A big reason New Orleans could not manage a comeback was because the Spurs limited Hornets' sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic to just two points on 1-of-6 shooting. Stojakovic set a team record with 10 3-pointers in Tuesday's 118-104 win over Los Angeles. "Bruce Bowen was just tremendous," Popovich said. "People only notice offensive guys, but he held Peja down, and that was very important tonight because Peja has been doing some great things from 3-point range."
David West scored 15 points for the Hornets, who shot 43 percent (34-for-78) from the floor.
"We've taken a couple of steps back here with these two losses," West said. "We didn't approach the Portland game with the right mindset. In the Spurs, you are dealing with a team that has got really, really good players who understand their roles.
"You almost have to play a perfect game to beat them or even give yourself a chance to win."
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