In what ended up being a game of varying runs, the Hornets couldn’t keep up their comeback in the fourth quarter and fell to the Spurs 95-86. The game looked like it was over at halftime against the defending champs, but the Hornets battled back in the third quarter and cut the Spurs lead to two at three minutes left in the third.
Once the fourth quarter hit, the Spurs reminded everyone what their offense and chemistry can do when they’re healthy. They started the final period with back-to-back 3-pointers by Matt Bonner and Manu Ginobili and then clamped down on defense to complement their offense – the Hornets scored 30 seconds into the fourth and then didn’t score again for six minutes. By then, the Spurs lead was back to double digits and the Hornets could never crack into it again.
Al Jefferson looked like a force at times in the post again – a welcome site for Hornets fans, especially with Kemba Walker out – and finished with 18 points on 8-12 shooting and 16 rebounds. He got into some early foul trouble and the Hornets really struggled offensively when he was gone. Walker’s absence will require someone to step up on offense. Jefferson is clearly that guy, but obviously things get problematic for the Hornets if he’s hampered by foul trouble.
Playing without your best player on the road against the defending champs is a tough spot to be in, but the Hornets showed some fight in the second half. And they'll need that fight going on. Right now is about quickly figuring out rotations and hanging onto that final Eastern Conference seed. The Nets lost tonight to the Hawks, so the Hornets still sit in the 8th spot. The Hornets are back at it on Saturday night in Denver at 9pm.