San Antonio (50-20) has won its last six meetings with New Orleans, including all three this season by an average margin of 24.7 points. The Spurs have also beaten the Hornets five straight times at home since a 98-96 defeat on Jan. 24, 2004.
They are also dominating just about everyone else these days. Tony Parker had 20 points and nine assists, Michael Finley matched his season high with 20 points and the Spurs routed Golden State 126-89 on Monday for their 17th victory in 19 games. It came one night after another rout, 120-79 at Seattle on Sunday.
“It’s not the way we plan to come in and win games, but it’s great to have games like that,” said San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, who totaled 36 points and 18 rebounds in the last two wins. “We’ve been moving the ball really well against teams that rely on pressure, turnovers and going with small lineups. It all works together, and it was good for us.”
That method and San Antonio’s balanced scoring, which is led by Duncan’s 20.0 points per game and Parker’s 18.5, have already qualified the club for the playoffs for the 10th season in a row - a run which spans Duncan’s entire career.
The Spurs appear focused on preparing for the postseason in the final 12 regular-season games, as opposed to worrying about trying to close the three-game gap on Phoenix for second-place in the Western Conference.
“I want to believe at this point of the season, we don’t care about (one win),” Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili said. “We know we’re still third, and really far away from Phoenix, so we’ve just got to stay focused on improving.”
The Hornets (32-39) are seeking to rebound from a 105-89 loss to Dallas on Tuesday - their 21st consecutive loss to the Mavericks since Nov. 17, 1999 - which left coach Byron Scott disheartened over his team’s effort.
“With 18 minutes left, down 15 points, they said, `It’s too hard.’ That is very discouraging to a coach,” Scott said. “I told them I don’t want to see that again.”
Chris Paul, the Hornets’ leading scorer with 17.5 points per game, went just 1-for-10 from the field and matched his season low with two points.
“He felt like we gave up, but that wasn’t the case,” Paul said of his coach’s reaction. “I think we gave an effort.”
The defeat dropped New Orleans 2 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 11 contests to go.
Paul just missed a triple-double in the Hornets’ last victory over the Spurs, scoring 17 points and adding 12 rebounds and nine assists in an 89-76 victory on Dec. 18, 2005.
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