Hornets 98, Spurs 96

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SAN ANTONIO (AP)—Darrell Armstrong capped off his career-best night appropriately—with a game-winning shot.

Armstrong scored a career-high 35 points, including a 3-pointer from 25 feet with a second left, to give the New Orleans Hornets a come-from-behind 98-96 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.

“I dreamed about this game all day,” Armstrong said. “I just felt like we had a chance to win.”

Armstrong, who scored 34 points against Philadelphia on Feb. 2, 2001, finished 11-for-21 from the field and a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line.

His winning shot wasn’t his only buzzer beater of the game either. He made a 53-foot shot with a second left in the first half to close to the Spurs lead to 52-41.

The Spurs seemed in control when they took an 18-point lead with five minutes left in the third, going up 69-51 after Tim Duncan dunked off an alley-oop pass from Ginobili.

But the Hornets, who dressed only nine players and were without injured guard Baron Davis (sprained left ankle) for the third straight game, came back behind the play of Armstrong. He scored 13 points in the quarter and his jump shot with 1:37 remaining capped a 10-2 run which cut San Antonio’s lead to 71-62.

Armstrong went 5-for-6 from the field in the fourth, scoring 12 points. His 16-foot jumper with 1:19 left tied the game at 90.

“We couldn’t ask for more,” Ginobili said of his team’s 18-point lead. “They got confident making shots and we stopped playing.”

Steve Smith, who last year started the season as the Spurs’ shooting guard, gave the Hornets their first lead of the second half when he hit a 3-pointer with 1:06 remaining to make it 93-92.

“It was big,” said Smith, who finished with 12 points. “You always want to come back and beat your old team. It was big for us, because we had been losing a lot.”

Tim Duncan, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds, responded by banking in a 15-footer with 20 seconds remaining to give the Spurs a 96-95 lead, and set up Armstrong’s winner.

“New Orleans deserves a lot of credit,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They’re banged up right now with two of their stars out. They played great for 48 minutes, so give them credit. They made shots, which helped, but we didn’t make stops down the stretch. They earned it.”

Jamaal Magloire scored 17 points and P.J. Brown and Smith each added 12 for the Hornets, who snapped a three-game road losing streak.

Malik Rose, who sat out the last two games with a sprained right ankle, led the Spurs with 20 points. He was 10 of 12 from the free throw line.

Tony Parker had 15 and Ginobili 12 for San Antonio, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Hedo Turkoglu had eight points before leaving in the first half after bruising his left thigh when he fell while driving for a layup.

San Antonio went on a 25-12 run to start the second quarter to take the 11-point halftime lead. The Spurs shot 61 percent from the field in the first half.

Last in the league in free throw shooting, the Spurs only connected on 17 of26 attempts.


Smith, who was a member of Spurs’ championship team last year, was honored before the game even though San Antonio had sent his ring to him this summer before he signed on with New Orleans. … This was only the second loss at home against an Eastern conference team. They are 10-2. … David West (sore right knee) also sat out for the Hornets. They have three other players on theinjured reserve list.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New Orleans
D. Armstrong D. Armstrong
11-21,  35 Pts
3 Rebs, 3 Assists
 San Antonio
T. Duncan T. Duncan
8-15,  17 Pts
13 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders