SAN ANTONIO (AP)—Chris Paul was mad. He threw his hands down, screamed at the referee and was summarily punished with a technical foul.
He wasn’t winning this argument. Nor would his 38 points be enough to win the game.
Tony Parker instead prevailed in a clash of All-Star point guards, scoring 25 points and stretching San Antonio’s lead in the Southwest Division over Paul and the New Orleans Hornets in a 106-93 win Saturday night.
Paul will start ahead of Parker for the Western Conference at the All-Star game in two weeks, and his season-high points total showed why. But Parker had a strong game of his own to offset the big night from his All-Star teammate, scoring 15 in the second half when Paul was at his hottest.
“Tony and Chris were great. They went after each other,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They put on a hell of a performance.”
It was the last treat that Spurs fans will see at home in a long while. The next three weeks of performances at the AT&T Center will include the cowboys and cattle who now send the Spurs out on their annual Rodeo Road Trip.
San Antonio’s next eight games will be played coast-to-coast before returning home Feb. 24. But they’re leaving with a little more room in the standings—beating the Hornets extended their lead over New Orleans to three games in the Southwest Division.
The Spurs have won three straight and seven of their last eight.
Paul said San Antonio wasn’t the same banged-up team the Hornets beat at home in December. That was their first meeting since the Spurs rallied from an 0-2 deficit to oust the Hornets in the Western Conference semifinals last season.
Sitting in his front of his locker with ice bags on both legs, Paul contemplated this loss in which he said every loose ball and traveling call seemed to go the way of the Spurs.
“We sort of got frustrated a little bit and said ‘darn’ and got two techs,” Paul said. “I’m serious, I said ‘darn.’ I mean, I guess that’s not what you should say.”
Hornets coach Byron Scott said his players were simply frustrated.
“Not to put a damper on how the referees reffed this game, but they got some technicals out of plain frustration,” Scott said. “Some missed calls. Then at the end, the referees will obviously come over and tell you they missed that call, but it doesn’t do us any good.”
Paul shook off the third-quarter technical and kept shooting. He scored 17 in the third quarter and another 12 in the fourth, finishing 15-of-22 from the floor. He sank five 3-pointers and also had six rebounds and four assists.
The Spurs, however, countered with six players in double figures to counter Paul’s one-man show.
Manu Ginobili also had 22 points, including a poster-worthy dunk over David Armstrong that made the home crowd erupt. After all, the emphatic jam isn’t what Spurs fans are used to seeing.
“It took me 45 games, but it finally came,” Ginobili said. “I’m glad that I could finally explode and go hard at the rim and get a nice dunk.”
West scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds in his second night back since missing five games with back spasms. New Orleans dropped its second in a row after being upset by Golden State the previous night. The Hornets’ next four are back in New Orleans, where they are 16-6.
San Antonio won its 29th straight game when scoring 100 or more points, the
Injury-plagued Spurs C Ian Mahimni is expected miss 6-10 weeks after undergoing surgery on his right ankle. He originally injured the ankle in August and has not played this season. … The Spurs recalled G Malik Hairston before Saturday’s game. The second-round pick has spent most of the season with San Antonio’s development team in Austin. … The Hornets did not renew the 10-day contract of rookie F Anthony Tolliver.