NBA Playoffs: Hornets hope to keep Duncan in check
NEW ORLEANS ó Tim Duncan was annoyed, muttering after losing a ball out of bounds, and later staring at the floor with his hands on his hips after missing a foul shot.
After averaging nearly 25 points and 14 rebounds in five playoff games against the Phoenix Suns, Duncan did little right for the Spurs in a 101-82 Game 1 loss at New Orleans on Saturday night.
Hornets center Tyson Chandler anchored a defensive effort that routinely employed double-teams against Duncan, who missed eight of nine shots, made only half of his six free throws and finished with five points and three rebounds.
That kind of outing from Duncan is rare. The Hornets aren’t sure they can lock down the Spurs’ perennial All-Star again in Game 2 on Monday night, but they certainly intend to try.
“They want to give him more shot attempts, want to get him more looks at the basket,” Hornets forward David West said. “We’re not going to leave any of our guys one-on-one with anybody. We haven’t done that all year. We won’t allow our teammates to get embarrassed, so he’s going to get more shots, but every time he catches the ball he’s going to see a line of defense. He’s going to see Tyson, he’s going to see the next line and the next line of defense.”
Chandler said he’s considered Duncan the best center in the game for a long time, and because of that has studied Duncan’s game to see what he could learn about playing the position. There’s another benefit to that for the Hornets in this series.
“I’ve been watching him so much I know his game and I kind of know his counters,” Chandler said. “I don’t think you’ll necessarily stop Tim out there. He’s too good of a post player. The thing we have to do is keep him away from his spots. Keep him away from easy buckets. I’ve watched him long enough to kind of know his game.”
Duncan’s response? Everyone will have to wait and see. The Spurs had scheduled practice at the New Orleans Arena on Sunday, but canceled it.
The Hornets, meanwhile, practiced only briefly after watching some game film. Hornets coach Byron Scott said he wanted his players as fresh as possible because he expects them to push the tempo.
“We have to use what we’ve got. We have the youth, younger legs, things like that,” Scott said. “We’re a little more athletic than they are.”