By Aggrey Sam and Toney Blare

Pre-game
AS: The Spurs locker room is very quiet. I take that as a sign of focus. I was wrong. Does anybody know what the No. 35 patches on their shooting shirts stand for? I forgot to ask. Rudy Gay is walking around the arena aimlessly. As am I and eventually, Toney Blare, who texts, “Doing lifestyle sh*t in the Bacardi lounge.” Sounds more exciting than it really is.
TB: Due to some confusion, I’m at the top of the lower bowl and Aggrey’s down at courtside. Pretty diverse crowd up here, as I sit next to a French reporter, whose next to a Chinese reporter, whose next to this (don’t make me have to go and see the) Rasta, who Aggrey is best boys with. Also: two rows down, a white dude with gold fronts.
AS: Yes, they split up GreyTone. The nerve of these dudes. He’s calm now, but I recall receiving texts about “This sh*t won’t fly” and “Pigeon’s nest,” but I guess all’s well that ends well.
TB: Nat’l Anthem: a 5 year old named Tione Johnson. Honestly, this city has more child prodigies…
AS: Tione absolutely killed that thing. She has adult diva mannerisms already, which should still be cute for another 10 years or so. Also: Dwyane Wade in the building and the Hornets dare play with fire again?!
Q1
AS: The Hornets are intense on D–maybe too intense, in an overexcited, hyped-up type of way. The Spurs might not be intense enough, in a been-here, done-that, stick-to-the-script type of way.
TB: TP gets hit hard early, and is in a pissy mood all night. This is a game the refs will need to control. (Sad how true–in the bad way–that becomes)
AS: For right now, the calls are going both ways. I’m all for it, if we can get a Mike James-Damon Stoudamire shootout out of the deal.

TB: After CP3 loses Parker to make it 13-11, Pop calls a TO, out of which Bowen drains a 3. There’s a grave inevitability with the Spurs that’s not unlike watching the Patriots. Christ, does that make CP3…? NO, and B-Scott isn’t some angry old man, either, and the Saints better not sign Shockey.

AS: Byron actually gets pretty testy about a call early on. Strange to see him without a smirk and out of his B-boy stance. Meanwhile, David West is in that familiar groove early. Bruce Bowen off the dribble for an open layup! He seemed uncomfortable.
TB: Emeril in the house. Aggrey texts that Lang would be amped. During last year’s Jazzfest, some friends of mine from Pittsburgh went to Emeril’s and got mean drunk, apparently a reaction to the poor service. Emeril was in the house that night, too, filming a TV spot, and one of my friends tried to crash the kitchen, yelling, “Emeril knows this ain’t right! Emeril knows!” I can’t really forget that when I see him.

AS: Lang once told me I don’t like food because I don’t watch the Food Network. Inaccurate. I mean, I like sex, but I don’t watch…never mind.

TB: David West is on fire, has 14 for the quarter. Peja’s only had 2 shots, which is not hot.

AS: West is keeping the Hornets in it right now. Pop’s Game 3 adjustment of Bowen blanketing Peja instead of chasing around CP looks like a winner. Melvin Ely floors Oberto, which I kinda sorta anticipated after seeing them tangled up previously.
TB: Quarter ends 23-21, SA, and Pop just went crazy. It looks like bar fight down there, and I’m pretty sure Joey Crawford said something. To defuse the situation, Crawford walks to within 5 feet of the dancing Honeybees and stares. Always a good way to release the stress when Pop’s mad at you, Joey.

AS: My view was blocked, so I didn’t know what was going on. Turned out they were fussing over a delay of game call, which Pop detailed in the post-game press conference.
Q2

TB: I don’t know how to describe the moments when Juju Wright sees a seam in the defense, but the entire crowd can see it happen, like his eyes just got 10x bigger and his arms grow a few yards. He attacks the hole in one long motion, and banks the ball hard off the backboard. Bowen drains a 3 at the other end.

AS: The young fella just needs some savvy. At the next day’s practice, I saw him lose some of his hard-earned money in a shooting contest. Should have bet on the off-the-back-of-the-backboard-windmill Dwight Howard did, which he pulled off.
TB: Bow Wow in the house! I text Aggrey that Lang would be amped.

AS: I’m not touching that one.

TB: 34-28 Spurs with 8:00 left. The Hornets need a solid run now, I think.

AS: Bonzi gives good playoff fouls. The fan behind me: “Good foul, two-four…Bonzi! Bonzi!” Easy, cowboy.

TB: Drew Brees pops his free t-shirt, autographs a football, then guns it into the first row of the upper deck. Sign that lady to a minicamp!

AS: I like that Byron is trying out the small lineup I’ve been pushing: Pargo, Peja, Bonzi, Julian, West. Not bad, right?

TB: Wow, a second white dude with gold teeth sits down and high fives his, uh, brother. Bling, ahem, bling.

AS: I don’t have such characters around me, but I am treated to the dead-ball antics of one Timothy Duncan. Strange cat, but in a harmless way, unlike Kurt Thomas. Nobody wants a piece of Krazy Kurt.
TB: The run is slow in the making, with Peja and West doing some damage and Ginobli countering them. 42-36 Spurs with 1:50 left.

AS: Bowen is getting off a little bit, too. CP starts slow, although he’s distributing the ball well.
TB: At this point, the dude whose seat I’m in (KATZ reads the label, which could be radio or a deli) shows up and I move to the TV station seats on the same level, center court. Much better.

AS: Manu is so unique. His over-the-head and-one off a baseline cut was a thing a beauty.
TB: When Ginobli falls down, West ends up dunking at the other end and the game is tied. The crowd, as it has been all post-season, is electric.

AS: I’m not mad at Byron trying Hilton Armstrong in the place of Ely. While the bizarre insertion of Ely into the lineup didn’t backfire in Games 1 and 2, I think it’s safe to say that any tricks he learned in Spurs’ practice last year are now out of the bag.

TB: Parker gets hit again, this time by, I think, a Pargo elbow. That’s the playoffs and maybe Mike D’Antoni isn’t in the seat of a sexual harasser if everyone thought the same way.

AS: Anti-French slurs from the fans behind me. French journalist next to me: “It’s easy for me to deal with. I just switch to French; ‘I don’t understand’…That’s usually the best answer,” as TP hits both free throws.
TB: Half ends 47-44. West has 22, CP3 only 6 and 8. Manu leads the spurs with 15, Parker’s at 10 and 2, and TD is held to 4.

Halftime

TB: Trombone Shorty might be compared to Lebron James. Since a young age, he’s been in the spotlight, playing on the street and with his well-known family. Now the question is, can he take that next step and push N.O. music further than just funk and brass? The talent and charisma is there, and he’s definitely looking for the nat’l audience. That quest might be his Achilles heel, but tonight, things look good for the next king.

AS: I’m the three-cookie bandit. Two for the security ladies out front. You have no idea how coveted the halftime cookies are by the media. I took one for myself, then decided, “Eff it–I’m that much of a G!” I take phone calls at halftime and miss Trombone Shorty. Guess I have no culture. How many G’s that you know do?
Q3

TB: Well, I guess Chris Paul made the decision to take this thing by the throat. A floater, a 3, and a chip shot from the paint make it 57-51. Not to root against them in the next one, but how dope would it be to see this dude in his first Game 7?

AS: Yes, the CP magic act begins. Again: chess, not checkers. His skill game is well-documented, his mental game is starting to draw acclaim, but his hustle game is sick. That’s what sets apart great perimeter players to me; substitute hustle game for battle game with great posts. Whirling dervishes and immovable objects. Question: Does Bron even have a hustle game?
TB: Hornets D is the other story, as they have SA playing sloppy and frustrated. The refs haven’t been good on either side, but the Spurs get the visitors treatment.

AS: Tyson is all over the place on D. Stats never tell the story with that dude. Peja’s board work is underrated in this affair, as is Mo Pete’s solid all-around game and big shots.
TB: From this angle, you can really see that TCP3 alley-oop coming. Fortunately, the Spurs aren’t stealing signals.

AS: That might be true on that play, but I definitely peeped Brent Barry stealing signs earlier. Fan: “Hey, Manu! (dramatic pause; trying to think of something since everyone is waiting to hear what he has to say)…You lose!”
TB: D-West +1 past TP, quarter ends 72-58.

AS: Glad I picked West for that NBA.com fantasy game, the one the “Inside the NBA” cats compete in.
TB: The Used-to-Bees come out. They’re the, like, older, more physically diverse dance team. They have this Svengali dance coach, a real shady dude, who tonight…is that guy making it rain? No sh*t. He just made it rain. I’m still wincing as I write this.

AS: The man pulled that off with aviator shades on.
Q4

TB: Byron is going for the kill! He leaves his starters in to face Pop’s line-up of shooters, Udoka, Ginobli, Fin, Bones, and Oberto, who’s not so much a shooter as an extra in a junkie flick.

AS: I used to think Byron leaving his starters in for such long stretches was foolish, especially with the injury histories of some of them. But you know what? The man won Coach of the Year behind doing that, saying little and crossing his arms. What do I know?

TB: Doesn’t work. 2:30 into the quarter, it’s 78-63. After the Spurs TO, the Jumbotron plays a clip from 300 while Enter Sandman pounds thru the speakers. That line, “Off to never, neverland” was the death of heavy metal.

AS: Spurs owner Peter Holt looks a lot more subdued than he did earlier in the game.

TB: Tyson is helped off. Looks like an ankle and trouble down the road. He and West have alternated on TD and done a great job tonight.

AS: Byron later says it’s a toe; I hear in the next day’s practice it was his foot. The energy left the arena (maybe that’s why Utah is so good at home–Energy Solutions Arena–get it?) when he went down.
TB: West goes around TD, then blocks his shot at the other end. Pargo finishes with a 2, its’ 85-70 Hornets with 6:00 to go.

AS: Did we mention West is doing all this with a bad back?

TB: Unfair but awesome: when Tony goes to shoot FT’s that could cut the lead to single digits, a fan holds up a life-sized cut-out of Eva in what looks to be a Honeybees outfit. He misses both and all us 15 year old’s chuckle. For this, the fan gets a pound from Hilton, who seems to have some diva-on-diva beef with Eva.

AS: Bunk from “The Wire,” a New Orleans native, is here.

TB: Hugo appears with gold boxing gloves on as the Rocky theme plays, and eventually he makes his way to the top row in the arena, bringing the crowd to its feet. Hugo’s been thru a lot these last few days, and it’s good to see him back on-top. Aggrey resents the out-of-Philly experience.

AS: Look, after spending much of the AI era in the City of Brotherly Love–including the ’01 Finals run, which featured the ultimate “Rocky” team–seeing it elsewhere is real corny to me.

TB: This leads Pop to pull his starters with over 2 minutes left and a 12 pt. deficit, though it might have been a “F*ck You” to the refs, too.

AS: Mike James, Jannero Pargo, Julian Wright, Ryan Bowen and Hilton Armstrong vs. Jacque Vaughn, Damon Stoudamire, Brent Barry, Ime Udoka and Fabricio Oberto.

TB: I’m not sure, but I think the local TV people just had an Anchorman-like confrontation below us. Really, there’s a heated re-telling going on to my left. Huh.

AS: 101-79, no T-shirt dance, Ray Nagin exits stage left. West has 38 and 14 boards, CP drops 22 with 14 dimes, Duncan snatches 23 boards.
Post-game

TB: The reporter who Pop sarcastically labeled, “a very accurate young man” after Game 2? Yeah, he introduces his question to Pop by saying, “it’s the very accurate reporter again (coy smile).” Really? You want to what, flirt with Pop at a time like this? Pop still doesn’t know why the games are all blow-outs, but he does say “I believe the official was incorrect” twice.

AS: I didn’t figure Duncan to be a Rocawear polo type of guy. The Spurs locker room is quiet again.

TB: Big Shot Bob talks to some friends on the loading dock, looks unconcerned. This concerns me, as we still haven’t seen his dagger collection this series. More to come.

AS: I have the Hornets in a close one tonight, wish is wishful thinking for a number of reasons. But even if this thing goes seven, I still have New Orleans winning.