for this game
West dominates Duncan as Hornets drop Spurs
May 4, 2008 - 6:55 AM
NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- David West and the New Orleans Hornets didn't start the fire. But the San Antonio Spurs
couldn't putout the flames.West scored a career playoff-high 30 points as the Hornetsposted a resounding 101-82 victory over the San Antonio Spurs inGame One of their Western Conference semifinals series onSaturday.Chris Paul had 17 points and 13 assists and Peja Stojakovicadded 22 points for the Hornets, who outscored the Spurs, 56-33,in the second half to secure the victory."Obviously in the second half we played extremely well -especially on the defensive end," Hornets coach Byron Scottsaid. "It wasn't so much the adjustments we made at halftime,we were just a little more aggressive."The game was delayed 19 minutes in the first quarter after theHornets' mascot jumped through a ring of fire, but the blazecould not be put out - causing residue from fire extinguishersto lather the court."It's not what one would choose," Spurs coach Gregg Popovichsaid. "Both teams had to deal with it, so it was fair.Whoever's decision that was will probably get a little talkingto."San Antonio had just as tough a time guarding West, who shot13-of-23 from the field - peppering the Spurs' defense withmid-range jumpers - and added nine rebounds."I think that David (West) gets up for every game," Scott said."This time of year is a special time. I just think that heknows that he is going against not only Tim Duncan, but theSpurs. They are the world champions. His level ofconcentration right now is extremely high."While he did not guard him directly, West badly outplayed Spurssuperstar Tim Duncan, who scored a career playoff-low fivepoints on 1-of-9 shooting."I think it got away from us a little bit where they made shotsand we didn't," Duncan said. "That's all it came down to. Thenthey put a run together and we couldn't answer. They kept it onus."But the Hornets needed West's outstanding play because it wasnot a vintage performance from Paul, who battled through foultrouble all night. He picked up his third infraction with 1:27left before halftime.A frontrunner for the league Most Valuable Player Award, Pauldid pick up his play in the fourth quarter by getting a rise outof the sellout crowd with some dazzling open-court play."I describe (Paul) that he runs an organized playground,"Popovich said. "Byron is going to call plays for a lot of guys,but a good portion of the time Chris takes control and he makesa decision. He has an uncanny ability for spatial awarenessand an ability to know where his teammates are."In the span of five possessions in the final three minutes, Paulnailed two tough jumpers, fed West for a slam on the break andthrew down a jam of his own to make it 101-82 with 1:11 left."I think we took a page out of San Antonio's book," Paul said."If you watch them over the years they never get rattled, theyalways stick to whatever their game plan was, and we did that."The boisterous crowd, which all was clad in yellow, gave Paul astanding ovation after he used a trick dribble and a spin moveon his way to the basket to draw a foul in the final sequence.But it wasn't the highlight of the night.After the first quarter, the Hornets' mascot - in a stuntperformed once a season - jumped through a ring of fire andslammed home a dunk to the delight of the crowd at New OrleansArena.However, the flames on the ring would not go out, and severalfire department officials needed to come onto the court and putout the blaze with fire extinguishers rather than carbon dioxidecartridges.The bevy of extinguishers - along with water - coated the courtwith a slimy substance, causing a delay to the start of thesecond quarter. The Spurs led, 27-23, after one.When the game resumed, several players slipped and seemedtentative because of the risk of injury.One of those tentative performers was not Spurs swingman BruceBowen, who nailed five 3-pointers in the first half en route toa 49-45 lead for San Antonio at the half.In the third quarter, emotions were running high again thanks toBowen, who bumped Paul during a dead ball, causing the teams tojaw back and forth while officials separated them nearmidcourt.Bowen, who has a reputation as a dirty player and an instigator,may have been retaliating after a flagrant foul by Hornetsreserve Bonzi Wells, who pulled Bowen down while the veteranswingman was attempting a layup in the second quarter."We just finished a very tough first round that was veryphysical," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "We expected the samething from New Orleans. They play very good at home and theyplayed with a lot of confidence. They did a good job. Theyplayed physical."Despite his hijinx, Bowen did not leave his imprint on the gameafter halftime, going scoreless in the final two periods. Hisabsence and West's play sparked a dominant second half for theHornets."We definitely want to play for 48 minutes, instead of 24,"Popovich said.Parker scored 23 points and Manu Ginobili had 19, seven assistsand six rebounds for San Antonio, which will try to bounce backin Game Two here Monday.