SAN ANTONIO &
The San Antonio Spurs just won't go away. Not that Chris Paul expected them to.
"They're the defending champs," the New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard said Thursday after the Spurs forced a Game 7 in the Western Conference semifinals. "They weren't going to lay down for us."
The Spurs avoided elimination with a 99-80 victory, and will head back to New Orleans for Monday's decisive game.
And for the first time in these playoffs, the Hornets are facing elimination.
"The great thing about it is when Game 7 comes, we're not down by 20," Paul said. "It starts all over back at zero-to-zero."
Manu Ginobili scored 25 points, Tim Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Parker added 15 points in Game 6.
"I think as a team, everybody played well," Parker said. "For us to win, I think Timmy needs to be aggressive and he was aggressive tonight. He played very well, passing when he had to. ... Everyone was making their shots."
Paul led the Hornets with 21 points and eight assists, and Tyson Chandler scored 14 points. David West had 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter after aggravating a back injury.
"It's sore right now. Good thing we have two or three days here to get rest and treatment. It's the way it happens sometimes," West said.
A road team has yet to win in this series. In fact, the home team has won each game going away.
"Bottom line is we haven't won at their house," Duncan said. "We haven't gone in their gym and we haven't played well at all. We've gotten blown out every time. We're happy to force a seventh game. We're happy to go in their gym. And we believe we're a good road team, and we're going to do our best to make a game of it."
Home teams are 20-1 in the second round of the playoffs.
"If I could figure out what's going on with this home court stuff, I would bottle it and sell it to the other 29 teams in the league," Hornets coach ron Scott said.
Game 6, like the five before it, was won by double digits. It was also won, like those before it, in the third quarter, when the Spurs outscored the Hornets 20-12.
The Spurs took the lead for good after Parker's jumper with 4:27 left in the first quarter broke a 17-all tie. They led by as many as 24.
The Spurs hit 11 of 21 3-pointers, led by six from Ginobili. The Hornets had just two 3s.
The Spurs shot 49 percent from the field (38-of-77) to the Hornets' 41 percent (33-of-80) and outrebounded them 45-40. The Spurs had 28 assists &
six from Duncan &
and the Hornets had 13.
The Spurs came out with desperate energy, shooting 71 percent in the first quarter. They led by as many as 13 in the opening period after Bruce Bowen's 3-pointer made it 36-23. The Spurs took a 36-24 lead into the second quarter.
In the third, the Hornets got into quick foul trouble. Paul picked up consecutive offensive fouls, his third and fourth, and West picked up his second and third, all in a span of 1:05.
Then West picked up his fourth foul and, visibly upset about it, got a technical with 8:44 to play.
"It was just bad timing to have those kind of fouls at that particular time," Scott said. "Because you get the two offensive fouls on CP (Paul) and then one on David, that takes away a possession, a chance to score."
West did not score again in the quarter, but Paul kept his composure, hitting another layup and jumper and feeding Chandler for two more dunks.
After Chandler's second slam, which brought the Hornets within 71-63, they didn't score for the last 4:44 of the period and the Spurs pulled away.
Duncan sank a shot over Chandler, then hit a layup and pumped his fist after Ime Udoka blocked Paul's layup attempt.
The Spurs were firmly in control and Ginobili's back-to-back 3s to start the fourth quarter gave San Antonio an 84-63 lead and put away the game.
With 10:11 left in the game, West left the court with an aching back.
West fell to the floor after being screened from behind by Spurs forward Robert Horry, who was called for an offensive foul. Laying face down on the floor, West put his left arm behind him and rested it on his lower back before going to the locker room.
Ginobili, Duncan leads Spurs to Game 6 victory over Hornets
SAN ANTONIO &