Ginobili, Spurs force Game SevenMay 16, 2008 - 5:17 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Don't count out the defending champions just yet.
Manu Ginobili scored 25 points as the San Antonio Spurs avoided elimination by blowing out the New Orleans Hornets, 99-80, in Game Six of their Western Conference semifinals series Thursday.
Tim Duncan added 20 points, 15 rebounds and six assists for the Spurs, who aim to become the first road team to win in the series when they head to New Orleans for Game Seven on Monday.
"We're happy to force a seventh game," Duncan said. "And we'll do our best to make a game of it, and hopefully do a little better than we did in the past."
Usually their Achilles heel against New Orleans, San Antonio survived and thrived in the third quarter. The Spurs outscored the Hornets, 20-12, to take a 78-63 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"That third quarter was ugly for us," Hornets superstar Chris Paul said.
"I thought we played a good first half, but the third quarter really broke our back tonight," said New Orleans forward David West, who actually left the game in the third quarter with a back injury.
Ginobili, who was 6-of-9 from the arc, then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open the quarter and give the Spurs a 21-point lead that the Hornets would never challenge. Duncan took a seat on the bench shortly thereafter.
Battling through foul trouble for most of the game, Paul had 21 points and eight assists for the New Orleans, which never led by more than three points.
Behind Duncan's 10-point first quarter, the Spurs, who shot 71 percent from the field in the opening period, jumped out to a 36-24 lead.
"It wasn't pretty and, if I could figure out what was going on with this home court stuff, I'd bottle it and sell it to the other 29 teams in the league," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.
In the second quarter, the Hornets were able to tighten the game a little by scoring five straight, cutting their deficit to 46-39 with 6:17 left in the quarter.
Shortly after, Ginobili knocked down two straight 3-pointers which gave the Spurs a 52-43 lead with 4:05 left in the half en route to a 58-51 advantage at halftime.
Ime Udoka came off the bench to score 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting for the Spurs. He was 3-of-3 from the 3-point line.
"Our top players played well, and I thought they were supported tremendously by the bench," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Early in the third, Paul's running jumper cut the Spurs' lead to 60-55. But Paul and West committed some costly fouls.
The pair combined for five quick fouls just under three minutes into the third. West, who had three fouls in 26 seconds, received a technical for arguing his last infraction.
"It was just bad timing," Scott said. "The offensive fouls took away possessions and chances to score."
Paul kept his answer even shorter.
"Wow," Paul said about the calls. "No comment. Game Seven in New Orleans. Let's go."
Things didn't get much better for West, who caught a forearm in his back on a pick by veteran San Antonio forward Robert Horry. West stayed on the ground before being escorted to the locker room.
"I took a hard shot to the back," West said. "The nice thing is we have a couple of days to work all the pain and get me ready for Game Seven. We have one game, one opportunity to move on."
A few possessions later, a nifty bounce pass from Duncan to Fabricio Oberto gave the Spurs a 65-55 lead with 8:05 left in the third.
San Antonio started applying the pressure when Tony Parker, who had 15 points, hit a 3-pointer from the corner that gave the Spurs a 68-57 lead. On the next play, though, Paul found Tyson Chandler for a lob dunk.
But it wasn't enough to get the Hornets going and, with the game well out of reach, all of the starters were on the bench a few minutes into the fourth.
Once again, at home, the Spurs were able to move the ball around the court more effectively. They finished with 28 assists on their 38 field goals, compared to the Hornets' 13 assists on 33 field goals.
"Things went our way tonight," Popovich said. "That's for sure."
NEW ORLEANS 80
SAN ANTONIO 99 FINAL
May 15 11:30 PM
NEW ORLEANS 63
SAN ANTONIO 78 END, 3RD QTR
May 15 11:00 PM
NEW ORLEANS 51
SAN ANTONIO 58 HALFTIME
May 15 10:13 PM
NEW ORLEANS 24
SAN ANTONIO 36 END, 1ST QTR
May 15 9:35 PM
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