You can’t give up 21 points worth of turnovers and expect to beat a team as experienced and efficient as the San Antonio Spurs.
The Hornets committed 10 turnovers in the first half alone. They managed to overcome that and a 12-point deficit to lead early in the third quarter. But from there the Spurs carved up the Hornets with deft offensive execution in a 114-94 victory at AT&T Center.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford, who drew a technical foul midway through the third quarter, gave up on this one with about three minutes left, emptying his bench. The Hornets had all manner of trouble guarding the Spurs in the post without giving up wide-open 3-pointers.
The loss broke a two-game winning streak for the Hornets, who will complete their three-game road trip with a Tuesday game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Three who mattered
Kemba Walker: He got to the rim several times early off the dribble, then started making his jump shot for a season-high 27 points.
Kawhi Leonard: The Spurs small forward (23 points) has become such an efficient offensive player to complement his strong defense.
David West: Such a luxury to have West on San Antonio’s bench on a night LaMarcus Aldridge got in quick foul trouble.
▪ Since the inception of the Bobcats in 2004, the Spurs assembled a 19-2 record against the Bobcats/Hornets coming in to Saturday’s game.
▪ Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb entered the Spurs game sixth in the NBA in field-goal percentage, having made 24 of his first 40 shots (60%).
▪ It’s a small sample size, but obviously the Hornets addressed their poor shooting: As of Saturday’s statistics they were first in free-throw percentage (84.5 percent) and fifth in 3-point percentage (36.9 percent). Coach Steve Clifford believes 3-point percentage is as accurate a predictor of team success as any statistic the NBA keeps.
▪ Clifford’s last two practices were light and he’s giving the team Sunday off from practice. He said he’s trying to save the players’ legs in a span of six games in 12 days.
▪ The first half Saturday was about as well as you’ll ever see Walker get to the rim.
▪ As part of military appreciation day, the Spurs wore camouflage uniforms.
▪ Tim Duncan committed two offensive fouls in the first half on illegal screens. He’s always pushed the envelope setting screens.
▪ Hornets rookie Frank Kaminsky got in early in the second quarter, logging six first-half minutes.
C OFFENSE: The Hornets (particularly Walker) shot well Saturday but those 10 first-half turnovers gave up way too much to the Spurs at the other end.
D DEFENSE: The Hornets had to give help to the big men down low, but the recovery to guard 3-pointers didn’t cover ground fast enough.
C COACHING: Between the turnovers and the rebounding, the Hornets didn’t give themselves much chance to beat an elite team on the road.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell