In easily the best road victory this season, the Charlotte Hornets held off the San Antonio Spurs 108-93 Monday, finishing a trip through the Western Conference at 2-4.
This was an emotional night for former Spurs superstar Tony Parker and former Spurs assistant James Borrego. Parker, playing against the Spurs for the first time in his 18-season NBA career, seemed to play nervously early, but finished with eight points, four assists and three rebounds. Borrego, coaching against his mentor, Gregg Popovich, assembled a strong game plan against the 25-20 Spurs.
Hornets point guard Kemba Walker finished with 33 points. This was Walker’s 13th game this season of 30 or more. Jeremy Lamb added 19 poitns and seven rebounds.
Borrego put Parker back in in the last minutes, drawing a chant of “Tony-Tony-Tony” from the AT&T Center crowd. Parker waved to Spurs fans with both hands as the game concluded after hugging Popovich.
Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hornets got their sixth win this season away from Spectrum Center, compared with 15 losses.
Three who mattered
Kemba Walker: He made six of his first nine attempts from 3-point range.
LaMarcus Aldridge: It seemed really easy for him to get the ball where he wanted it and when he wanted it in the post.
Miles Bridges: Not gaudy numbers, but efficient from the Hornets rookie.
▪ The Spurs didn’t wait for Parker to enter the game (which came about seven minutes into the first quarter). They celebrated Parker’s first game back in San Antonio with a tribute video that lasted roughly a minute before Hornets introductions.
▪ Fans chanted “Tony, Tony, Tony” for Parker at the end of that video. It was quite a contrast from a recent game against another former Spurs star. Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard. Leonard asked for a trade, rather than a long-term extension from the Spurs, and the fans booed him passionately.
▪ As big a homecoming as this was for Parker, it was also one for Hornets coach James Borrego, a longtime Spurs assistant. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich talked pre-game about how efficient Borrego was as video coordinator providing exactly what Popovich needed — good or bad plays — to make a point at practices or halftimes before being promoted to assistant coach.
▪ Teammate and longtime friend Nic Batum said Monday morning he sensed Parker was nervous about his first game back in San Antonio. Parker missed all four of his first-half shots.
▪ The Hornets’ early 10-point lead allowed Borrego to limit Walker’s first-half minutes to 16, as Borrego continues to work in rookie point guard Devonte Graham.
▪ Former Hornet Marco Belinelli couldn’t play for the Spurs Monday because of a bruised left knee.
▪ The Hornets sent two-way player J.P. Macura back to the G-League Greensboro Swarm on Monday. Macura was on the six-game road trip as injury insurance after Jeremy Lamb started the trip with a hamstring strain.
▪ Parker finally scored on a pull-up jump shot with about three minutes left in the third quarter.
They said it
“It’s got to be emotional He poured blood, sweat and tears into 17 years in this organization.” – Borrego on whether he expected Parker to be nervous Monday.
“That talented, with that type of character, that’s hard to find. If you have one of those guys in your coaching career, you’re lucky. They had three at one time.” – Borrego on the Spurs “Big Three” of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Parker.
“We were talking like old guys. Time goes fast. You appreciate more what we had here. Very, very special” – Parker on visiting with Duncan Sunday.
B OFFENSE: Smart ball-movement against a Spurs team that doesn’t let you beat them from the foul line.
B+ DEFENSE Particularly in the first half, this was much better than it’s been of late on the road.
B+ COACHING: It’s never easy competing against your mentor, and Borrego navigated this well.
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