Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/18

Game 1: Sunday, December 18th
Game 2: Thursday, December 29th
Game 3: Wednesday, January 25th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 14th

Spurs 84

(33-10, 13-7 away)

Hornets 68

(20-22, 12-8 home)

    Coverage: COX

    7:00 PM ET, January 25, 2006

    Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

    1 2 3 4 T
    SA 23 19 24 1884
    NO 11 21 12 2468

    Top Performers

    San Antonio: T. Duncan 17 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

    NO/Oklahoma City : D. West 15 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Blk

    Duncan directs Spurs past offensively challenged Hornets

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A solid defensive performance by the San Antonio Spurs earned Tim Duncan some extra rest for his sore foot.

    Duncan scored 17 points and the Spurs handed New Orleans its worst defeat in Oklahoma City with a 84-68 win over the Hornets on Wednesday night.

    The Hornets' sputtering offense set a season low in scoring for the second straight game and gave the standing-room only crowd of 19,289 little to cheer about.

    "It was a surprising night. Defensively, we were solid," Duncan said. "We were very good. They were driving and jumping up into us a whole lot. I thought we did a great job of keeping them back and not giving them fouls."

    Tony Parker had 14 points and Nick Van Exel added 13, including a season-high four 3-pointers, as the Spurs pulled away to a 15-point first-half lead.

    Chris Paul scored the final six points of the half to get the Hornets back within 42-32, but San Antonio pulled away again in the second half.

    Parker's steal was the spark to an 11-2 run for the Spurs that put the game away in the third quarter. It led to a fast break that resulted in a technical foul shot for Brent Barry and two free throws by Duncan. By the time Nazr Mohammed hit two free throws with 1:34 left in the third quarter, the Spurs were up 62-40.

    The lead reached 80-54 before reserves helped the Hornets avoid a series of disappointing franchise lows.

    Duncan played only 24½ minutes in San Antonio's 104-76 win at Charlotte a night earlier and was on the floor for 32 minutes against the Hornets. With the game in hand, he was able to rest the final 5:30.

    "I think it's a great situation for everyone, especially myself," said Duncan, who's averaging a team-high 35.7 minutes. "I felt good tonight. I felt like I was moving pretty well and not in a lot of pain, so it was good."

    David West and Rasual Butler each scored 15 to lead the Hornets, who were 22-for-71 (31 percent) from the field. Paul added 14 points.

    New Orleans' largest prior defeat at the Ford Center was a 14-point loss to Boston on Dec. 7.

    It was the Hornets' lowest scoring output since an 83-67 defeat Dec. 17, 2004, also to San Antonio. They tied a franchise low with seven assists and narrowly avoided all-time lows for points (65) and field-goal percentage (30 percent) against a Spurs team ranked No. 1 in the NBA in field-goal defense.

    "Just like a lot of young teams do, if they're not making shots, then they start to get down on themselves instead of trying to pick up on the other end and make other things happen," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.

    "There's going to be games when you don't make shots. That cannot make you not defend or not hustle or not play hard on the other end of the floor. You've got to learn that in this league, OK, my shot's not falling, I can do other things to stay involved in this game and stay on the floor."

    The Hornets were held to 78 points on Monday at Boston, but that came two days after their highest-scoring game of the season in a 109-98 win at New York.

    "You just bounce back. I promise you if you let this game get to you too much, you won't be able to perform in the next game," Paul said. " ... You just take that game as it is and get ready for the next one. Shoot the same shots. Hopefully, they'll go in."

    Duncan, who matched a season low with 11 points when San Antonio lost in Oklahoma City last month, scored six points as the Spurs got out to a 13-2 start and never trailed. Van Exel finished the first quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Spurs a 23-11 lead and effectively eliminate any impact from the crowd.

    "It's huge on the road," Duncan said. "Obviously, you don't want to get down because all of a sudden the crowd is on top of you and teams play with a lot of energy."

    The Hornets made only 3 of 17 shots in their lowest-scoring opening period of the season and were never closer than nine points after that.

    Game notes

    Guard Manu Ginobili (sprained right ankle) and forward Robert Horry (right abdominal strain) did not travel with the Spurs. Coach Gregg Popovich said it's possible they could return for Saturday's game against Minnesota. "I wouldn't say a good chance, just a chance," he said. ... In the first quarter, Van Exel connected from the right wing for his 1,500th career 3-pointer. He and Seattle's Ray Allen are the only active players with 1,500 in their career. Van Exel leads all active players with 4,214 attempts from 3-point range.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 84 68
    FGM-FGA 29-78 (.372) 22-71 (.310)
    3PM-3PA 6-19 (.316) 1-5 (.200)
    FTM-FTA 20-25 (.800) 23-30 (.767)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-50 8-42
    Assists 12 7
    Turnovers 7 10
    Steals 4 6
    Blocks 3 8
    Fast Break Points 11 17
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (1/0) 19 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 26 0

    Top Performers

    San Antonio
    No/oklahoma City
    Tim Duncan Duncan
    Points: 17
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    David West West
    Points: 15
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2