The San Antonio Spurs' Big Three came through. Now they have to win one on the road to keep their title defense alive.
Manu Ginobili scored 25 points, Tim Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Tony Parker added 15 points in the Spurs' 99-80 victory over the visiting New Orleans Hornets in Game 6 last night.
The win forced a seventh game in the Western Conference semifinals on Monday in New Orleans. Home teams are 20-1 in the second round.
"Thank God we get to go back to New Orleans for Game 7," said Chris Paul, who led the Hornets with 21 points.
David West had 10 points before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter after apparently aggravating a back injury.
"I have confidence," Parker said. "We've won a lot of big games on the road."
Despite the closeness of the series, Game 6, like the five before it, was won by double digits. It was also won, like those before it, in the third quarter, when the Spurs outscored the Hornets 20-12.
"I don't know what to say," Paul said. "That third quarter was ugly."
The Spurs took the lead for good after Parker's jumper with 4:27 left in the first quarter broke a 17-all tie. They led by as many as 24.
The Spurs hit 11 of 21 three-pointers, led by six from Ginobili. The Hornets had just two treys. But the Hornets had 48 points in the paint to just 28 for the Spurs.
The Spurs shot 49 percent from the field (38 of 77) to the Hornets' 41 percent (33 of 80) and outrebounded them by 45-40. The Spurs had 28 assists and the Hornets had 13. It didn't matter. The Spurs were firmly in control and Ginobili's back-to-back threes to start the fourth quarter gave San Antonio an 84-63 lead and put away the game.
* Cleveland guard Daniel Gibson, one of the club's best perimeter shooters, separated his left shoulder in Game 5 and will miss Game 6 tonight with the host Cavs down 3-2 to the Celtics and facing elimination.