San Antonio wins series 4-3 (Game 3 of 7)

San Antonio wins series 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, May 3rd
Game 2: Monday, May 5th
Game 3: Thursday, May 8th
Game 4: Sunday, May 11th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 13th
Game 6: Thursday, May 15th
Game 7: Monday, May 19th

Hornets 99

(56-26, 26-15 away)

Spurs 110

(56-26, 34-7 home)

    Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

    8:30 PM ET, May 8, 2008

    AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    NO 23 33 22 2199
    SA 21 33 29 27110

    Top Performers

    New Orleans: C. Paul 35 Pts, 2 Reb, 9 Ast, 1 Stl

    San Antonio: T. Parker 31 Pts, 4 Reb, 11 Ast

    Hornets look to steal game in San Antonio

    SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Chris Paul turned 23 on Tuesday. The New Orleans Hornets' talented point guard said he had a low-key birthday, just hanging out with his teammates.

    The big surprise party might happen Thursday night, courtesy of Paul and his team if they can beat the defending champion San Antonio Spurs yet again by picking up a Game 3 win to take a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

    "They say you're supposed to win all your home games. The series doesn't start until the home team loses," Paul said Wednesday. "We understand their backs are against the wall right now but we've got to go in there and understand we really need to steal a game."

    The Hornets are poised to do so. They won in dominant fashion in Games 1 and 2 as the Spurs turned over the ball, missed open shots and looked slow next to the energetic Hornets.

    Paul said the Hornets, playing with seemingly unwavering confidence as they've compiled a 6-1 playoffs record so far, are close-knit off the court, something that helps them when the chips are down on it.

    "I think that makes a difference when we're on the court in that we really try to play hard for each other and we don't want to see the season end," Paul said.

    Neither do the Spurs, who said they've got to do one thing in Game 3: play better.

    Whether it's taking care of the ball (they had 28 turnovers in the first two games) or hitting outside shots when Tim Duncan's being doubled, the Spurs said they need to improve the little things in Game 3.

    "It sounds, like, easy, but we just have to play better," Tony Parker said. "They just outplayed us the first two games and now we're playing at home and we have to make more shots and play better defense. ... We're going to change stuff but at the end of the day it's just basketball."

    Parker and Manu Ginobili said they expect the Spurs to be more physical in Game 3. The two will try to be more aggressive in getting to the rim, something that's been a challenge so far as the Hornets have crowded the lane to force perimeter shooting.

    "We're going to have to realize that it's the only way, if we're going to have a shot, that without being physical it's not going to happen," Ginobili said, adding that his sore left ankle continues to improve.

    And if they can't drive the lane, Parker said they'll just have to trust other shooters.

    "Every year we won the championship, we got a lot of guys making shots," he said.

    Parker said he's taking a positive perspective and looking at being down 0-2 as a "great challenge." Now, he said, it's the Spurs' turn to show they want to win it all.

    The Hornets have.

    New Orleans coach Byron Scott called his young team "hungry" and said they've thrived in their underdog role this season.

    "We're not only playing the champions, we're playing for respect, because we felt all season long like we really haven't gotten it," he said.

    This matchup between the dynastic Spurs and the emerging Hornets has indeed been billed as one of experience versus youth.

    So far, Ginobili said, the experience part hasn't worked so well for San Antonio.

    "Even with the kind of experience that we all say we have, they played smarter," he said. "They can play faster or sometimes stronger, but at least we should play smart. So we are not basically doing anything right so we've really got to realize that we've got to improve."


    AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.