Spurs tame Hornets to set up final thriller

A 99-80 drubbing of the New Orleans Hornets helped defending NBA champion the San Antonio Spurs even their Western Conference semi-final on 3-3, setting the stage for a thrilling final leg in New Orleans on Monday.


The San Antonio Spurs crushed the New Orleans Hornets 99-80 on Thursday to force a deciding Game Seven in their Western Conference semi-final.


Defending NBA champion San Antonio held a 58-51 lead at the half and turned up the defensive pressure after intermission, limiting the Hornets to 29 points the rest of the way.The Spurs' home victory set up the series decider on Monday in New Orleans. The home team has won every game in the series with double-digit margins of victory. 


"If I could figure out what's going on with this home court stuff I would bottle it and sell it," Hornets coach Byron Scott said.  "It seems like the home team has played extremely well and the road team has played like crap for whatever reason. We're happy that at least we have Game Seven in our place."


The result continued a remarkable trend in the second round, with home teams winning 20 of 21 playoff games. Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 25 points and Tim Duncan contributed 20 and hauled in 15 rebounds. Chris Paul was top scorer for New Orleans with 21 points. David West, who scored 38 points and had 14 rebounds in the last game, was limited to just 10 points before leaving early in the fourth quarter with a back injury.


"They did a great job," Paul told reporters about the Spurs' performance. "Defensively they were moving, they were moving on a string all night. They were aggressive on their traps. They bothered us in the pick and rolls. They didn't let us get the easy shots that we got in New Orleans. "On the offensive end they did an outstanding job moving the ball around and Ginobili was lights out from the three." Ginobili made 6-of-9 three-point shots.


Spurs guard Tony Parker said Duncan's aggression was a key factor in the win. "For us to win, Timmy has to be aggressive and he was definitely aggressive tonight. "Manu was huge, too. That's what they were giving us, and Manu hit his shots. Manu and Timmy definitely played great."


New Orleans' playmaker Paul was not worried about a hangover from the lopsided loss. "I'm excited. This is what the NBA is all about. Game Seven," he said. "This is what we play for. They're defending champs. They were not going to lay down for us."


Duncan said the Spurs understood the task at hand. "We're facing elimination," he said. "We know we have to put a good game together there. We're confident in our ability on the road. It's just do or die."

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