Well, that was a letdown.
After playing San Antonio even for three quarters, the Hornets saw a flurry of awful, unforced turnovers converted into wave after wave of fastbreaks by the Spurs. In all honesty, the last three or four minutes were legitimately comedic.
It was a fascinating way to lose the game too, especially considering that the team's overall turnover rate (13.8% and league average is 13.7%) was fine for the game. New Orleans' turnover rate heading into the fourth was a shade around 12%. But ultimately, turnovers and the inability to prevent transition cost the Hornets the game, and quickly.
Here's the play-by-play from around the 4 minute mark to the 2 minute mark of the final quarter:
4:33 Greivis Vasquez misses jumper [86-89]
4:28 Danny Green fast break layup [86-91]
4:09 Eric Gordon turnover
4:03 Stephen Jackson fast break layup [86-93]
3:39 Ryan Anderson misses three
3:19 Tony Parker turnover
3:15 Greivis Vasquez makes three [89-93]
2:47 Tony Parker makes jumper [89-95]
2:34 Greivis Vasquez misses three
2:24 Tony Parker fast break layup [89-97]
2:05 Eric Gordon turnover
2:00 Tiago Splitter fast break layup [89-99]
1:45 Ryan Anderson turnover
1:42 Danny Green fast break layup [89-101]
To recap: on seven defensive possessions, that's five fast break layups allowed. That's ridiculous, and the issue of transition attempts ceded -- a problem all year -- hasn't been fixed even as the team has improved. A three point lead turned into a game sealing twelve point lead just under 3 minutes.
The reasons, of course, are obvious. Guards throwing the ball away on the perimeter, after a half court set has been initiated, is absolutely impossible to recover from. By definition, you then have an opposition guard ball handling on the break, at least two players running with him, and just the one guard remaining to defend multiple players. We saw it happen again and again and again in this game, and it really ruined what had been a very enjoyable night.