Tyson Chandler- flu-like symptoms
David West- elbow
Peja Stojakovic- back spasms
Bobby Jackson- cracked rib
If you want it to, that following injury report could sum up last night's contest between the Spurs and the Hornets. Then again, if you want it to, "flu-like symptoms" can translate to "staying out all night at Rick's Cabaret and washing it down with some drunken karaoke at Cat's Meow"--because, really, is there any other kind of karaoke?
"She says we've got to ho-oo-ld on...to what we've got
It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not
We've got each other...and that's-a-lot for love
We'll give it a shot!"
Regardless of the weight you place on the NOOCH's injury woes, when you play the best team in the league with four of your top six players in street clothes and earrings, it matters a bit.
That being said, the Hornets couldn't have hung with this team even if they were healthy. But that wouldn't be much of a blog column, and it wouldn't show off that I was there. There are only six games in New Orleans, so I had to pace at least one of them in person. It's one thing to watch Linton Johnson miss hook shots on TV; it's quite another to watch him miss them from a few hundred feet away.
The Hornets' Powers That Be distributed free towels upon entry in hopes that the crowd would use them to unify and will the team to victory, like the Heat's whiting out of opponents. What it turned into was me creating a cotton tornado and yelling, "Good foul, Hilton! Good foul! Make him work for it!"
Before tip-off, the starting lineups were introduced by an animated video on the Jumbotron in which the animated likenesses of the squad busted through buildings and soared through the air, all while their nicknames were stamped onto the screen. The funny thing is that, since we have players like Marcus Fizer, not everyone has a nickname. So almost every single profile was just a permutation of that guy's name, like D-Mase or B-Jaxx (yes, two x's), but the best part was learning that Rasual Butler's nickname is "Bop"? Seriously, I've played through an eighty-two game season with these guys on my Playstation and I run a blog devoted in part to the team, and I didn't know that. I smell a bank robbery, New Orleans Arena.
Between the player introductions and a Kermit Ruffins "Star Spangled Banner," CP3 got on a mic and explained to the fans how much the team appreciated the 504 love. He concluded his speech with, "We're a little short-handed tonight, but we're going to do our best." It was a comment just as telling as my girlfriend's "We're in the yellow uniforms, right?" (At least I didn't have to watch TNT's surely sanctimonious "Back to the N.O." coverage. By this point I need clips of famous people squinting in the ninth ward sun like I need a Taco Bell green onion.)
It's hard to have tradition when you've only been around for a few years, but Hornets fans don't sit down until the home team scores its first basket. Usually, this is kind of nice, but it proved embarrassing when the Spurs opened up a 9-0 lead. From there, San Antonio remained in control for the entire game.
The final score was 103-77, but it never really seemed as if the Spurs had long runs or dominating play at any point, which is what makes them so unbeatable. Every time the Hornets would try to make a run, the Spurs would put the clamps down. They kept great defensive pressure on Paul, who had a quiet 12 assists with only 6 points, and they got back onto D with frustrating speed after every change of possession. It was all so business-like.
Among the Hornets guys who suited up, there was little chemistry, which led to a lack of communication on defense. New Orleans had a difficult time rotating to the open man, so with an extra pass or two, the Spurs would often have an open three. Even Matt "Gas Money" Bonner hit a trey. Furthermore, the Hornets were late on double teams for Tim Duncan, so he either got so low on the block that he could drop the ball in, or there was an open shooter by the time one of our guys got there.
Timmy didn't have to sweat much last night though, since he only played twenty-four minutes, sitting out almost the entire second half of the blowout. What's worse is that there was no drop-off. With our main shotblocking presence and rebounder out, the Hornets made Jackie Butler look like Neon in Blue Chips.
The only thing I learned about the Hornets last night was that I am not their good luck charm.
Other news and notes:
The only time the crowd got animated in the second half was when a camerman found Deuce McAllister, and the Hive greeted him with raucous applause and a chili dogged standing ovation.
Speaking of the Saints, when they're winning like they are right now, the entire African-American community gets behind them, which automatically transfers the Hornets to the white man's team. (I'm telling you, it's true. Most years, black people have already tuned out of the NFL by now and are following the NOOCH, but this happens from time to time.) Of the 15,140 people in attendance, I'd guess that about 10,000 were white. I only mention this because the music played during the game was embarrassingly caucasian. I haven't heard "Who Let the Dogs Out" this many times since my sophomore year of college, when I dared myself to see how many times in a row I could listen to "Who Let the Dogs Out" (thirteen). And I'm also fairly certain that the last time "Tequila" was played unironically was 1973. It wouldn't have been out of place for Jimmy Buffet to be soundtracking a Brandon Bass turnover.
Finally, the guy sitting behind me had a customized Spurs jersey. His last name was Chia, and he was rocking #69. High class, friends.
[I had some other pictures, but Blogger is being temperamental. Pace.]