NBA: Spurs regain swagger
By Elizabeth White
SAN ANTONIO ó There was no third-quarter breakdown for the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, just the desperate play of a team whose quest for a second straight NBA title was on the line.
Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili both scored 31 points to lead the Spurs to a 110-99 victory over the New Orleans Hornets in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals.
With the win, the Spurs avoided falling into an ominous 0-3 hole from which no NBA team has ever returned.
Chris Paul led the Hornets, who still hold a 2-1 series lead, with 35 points and nine assists. David West had 23 points and 12 rebounds for New Orleans, which was dominant in the first two games of the series.
Game 4 is Sunday in San Antonio.
With the Spursí win, the home teams are 10-0 in the four conference semifinal series.
After trading leads all night, the Spurs led 83-78 entering the fourth quarter.
Ginobili led a charge early in the final period. Left alone, he hit a 3-pointer and was fouled by Bonzi Wells, who scrambled at him to guard the shot. The free throw put San Antonio up 87-82, and another 3 by Ginobili 38 seconds later made it 90-84.
New Orleans got within 90-88 before the Spurs went on an 11-0 run that ended with 5:57 to play.
The Spurs couldnít stop Paul, but West missed three of four free throws and the Hornets got no closer than 10 points in the latter half of the quarter.
The Spurs outscored the Hornets 27-21 in the fourth with Parker and Ginobili combining for 17 points. Duncan had 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Paulís shoes read iBrian!î in white lettering in honor of an 8-year-old fan with cancer who was set to attend Mondayís Game 2 but missed it with a fever and died hours later.
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