What the Spurs and Hornets said after Thursday’s game

Here’s a collection of comments  from both locker rooms after the Spurs’ 93-81 victory over New Orleans Thursday night at the ATT Center.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

(What helped you get started closing this game out?)

“Lots of things helped us.  Maybe we made a shot, maybe we missed a shot.  I don’t know.  A lot of things happen on the court, it’s not one thing.  Finally the game broke.  We made a few stops in a row and were fortunate enough to score at the other end at the same time and that’s what happened.”

(Discuss the defensive execution in the fourth quarter …)

“Again, the defense generated offense for us as the game went on into the fourth quarter.  I thought Tony was really good in the second half in forcing the issue and I thought Tiago had a great run in there defensively and offensively. The two of them really got us going and that was it.  New Orleans work hard.  You know they’re injured and they got guys out there going 100 percent constantly.  Monty and those guys do a great job with them and they just didn’t have all their pieces and that’s tough.”

 (On Tim Duncan…he seemed to have a lot of energy again tonight after last night…)

“We kept his minutes down.  He didn’t play that much.  As long as the minutes are low, he feels pretty good.”

 (On Tim Duncan…it seems like in the last two games he’s consciously trying to play in the post more …)

“He has.  He feels really good.  He feels like he’s got a good balance and that’s always a good sign when he wants the ball down on the block.”

 (On Tiago and Tony playing together…they seem to have a nice kinship going…)

“Yeah.  At one point, Tony came over and told me what he wanted to run because of Tiago and he thought he could get him the ball and he did it.  Tiago went right to the hole and scored.”

Spurs forward Tim Duncan

(On his aggressive performance tonight…)

“You know, I just took the initiative to be aggressive and attack them a little bit. We didn’t have shots falling from the outside as we didn’t shoot the three-ball real well. Opportunities were there, so I just took them when I could.”

(On whether his high number of free throws was due to being in the post more…)

“I’m just trying to attack when I get the ball. I’ve had some good situations the last couple of games to attack and I’ve gotten to the free throw line luckily. That’s just a big part of it. It helps me get started and it helps me in feeling good, so I just need to get to the free throw line more often.”

(On whether their skipping of practice will be good for them against Oklahoma City…)

“You know, I think we had some tired legs tonight as you could tell with our shooters. Guys were worn out a little bit and it’ll be good for us. It’s a crazy season as it’s taking a lot out of a lot of people. Any rest is good rest. I don’t think we’re going to lose much in just today, as it’s good to get some rest under our belts. I know there are a lot of games coming up as well as the season we have ahead of us.”

(On the defense in the fourth quarter with New Orleans trying to catch up…)

“I don’t understand it either. I thought we were playing pretty decent defense all the way through. They made some shots especially in the first half as they made shots from some guys were weren’t expecting. We stuck with it, stuck with the game plan we had, as it finally started to turn for us.”

Spurs forward Tiago Splitter

(On his performance in the fourth quarter…)

“Well, I think we had a great run as our defense stepped up a little bit. Offensively, I think TP runs the team very well as he finds the right guy open every time.”

(On the comfort he had with the offense tonight…)

“These are the kind of games where if you’re comfortable you have to ask for the ball. Overall, I think I‘ve been doing this for years even though this is my second year in the NBA. I’m feeling good and comfortable on the court, so I’m just trying to play my game.”

(On his drive on the top of the key…)

“That was a weird handoff from Tony but I saw my man sleeping, so I just went to the basket and tried to score.”

(On his thoughts about the upcoming matchup against Oklahoma City…)

“They’re a tough team. They’re very athletic, they play very fast and they have great players. You can see why they’re one of the best teams in the NBA right now. We got to have a great game and start very well to matchup against them.”

(On whether the talks about Oklahoma City being the best is creating motivation…)

“Of course. Also by playing at home in front of our crowd, we want to play good. We want to show our basketball as we know what we can do and it starts with our defense.”

New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams

(When asked about what he noticed in the game at the start of the fourth quarter…)

“We tied it up and then Gary Neal hit that three at the end of the quarter.  That was a bit of a let down because we know that’s what he does.  You have got to close out on him as the hot guy and make sure he puts the ball down.  They (the Spurs) just executed.  Their main guys stepped up.  They guys we were counting on to step up tonight just didn’t have it.  If you can hold San Antonio to that amount points you take it.  Our shooting and ability to score the ball wasn’t there in the fourth quarter.”

Follow up to previous question (When asked you called that quick timeout in the fourth what did you tell your players?)

“I told them to slow it down.  You don’t have to get it all in one possession.  They (the Spurs) made a run and we expected that on their home floor.  So we tried to go out there and run a set where we could get a good possession and we weren’t able to do it.”

(When asked about the play of Trevor Ariza and Jason Smith, did the Spurs do anything to try to make it tougher on them tonight…)

“I don’t think so.  With Jason (Smith) because he shoots the ball so well, teams are rotating to him.  Outside of that, I don’t think so.  We have to be forceful at the basket and try to dunk the ball.  For the most part, the ball was moving in the first half.  In the second half, I thought it came to a stand still at times.  It’s easy to play against iso-basketball.”

(When asked about the play of his guards tonight…)

“I thought they did O.K. With the circumstances I thought that Greivis (Vasquez) was really good in the first half.  Squeaky (Carldell Johnson) gave us great minutes.”

Hornets guard Marco Belinelli

(On what happened tonight…)

“In the fourth quarter, we only had 13 points and they had 22. That’s good on our defensive part but we just didn’t stick to our principle on offense. We stood with them the entire game. It’s just closing out games like coach said over and over but like I said last night, we just have to flush the toilet on this one and look forward to the next game and continue to work harder.”

(On coming out of the timeout in the fourth quarter, what did coach tell you guys…)

“Just to stay out there and run our stuff. Sometimes when we get into a pinch, we start doing stuff uncharacteristically not us, not running our offense and trying to go one on one basketball. We need to stay with what has kept us in the game and what has kept the game close. I felt like we were starting to get away from that so I tried to get the guys together and get us realigned.”

 Hornets guard Greivis Vasquez

(On the inability of closing out in the fourth quarter…)

“I take responsibility for that because I was the point guard out there today. In the last five minutes, I should have taken control of the game better. It is just a learning process, but I’m tired of learning. I don’t want to learn no more. I really take responsibility because as a young guy here, you have to learn quick. There are no excuses. It’s not coach, we are playing good defense and we are holding teams to a low score. At times we turn the ball over, then we try to come back and it is too late. We waste too much energy and when we are playing all stars we cannot be doing that.”

(Does it get frustrating by each loss?)

“We lost the last two games in the fourth quarter. We play hard in the third quarter and then we do not execute in the fourth (quarter). As a point guard, it is hard to fill Chris Paul’s shoes, but I expect myself to be better and that takes a little work. I’m going to get back and work, watch film and see how I can get better. ”

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