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Spurs
AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

Is that the look of a defending champion making their through the playoffs, standing strong, ready to defend their title or does it look like the image of defending champion perhaps on the precipice of being knocked out of contention? If you’re like me and saw the same things I saw last night and on Saturday, you might be thinking the Spurs look like they are done.

After watching the Spurs fall, 102-84, you might also be thinking the Hornets — led by the mighty Chris Paul — look like the much younger, hungrier team while the Spurs look slow and dare I say it, old. Of course, they say a playoff series hasn’t really begun until you lose a game at home and fortunately for San Antonio, both losses have been in New Orleans. However, I’m not sure if a trip west is going to be balm that salves their wounds.

Perhaps a new supporting cast might help.

As it stands, Chris Paul is the best player on the floor; the remaining Hornets starting five look younger and faster and have been more productive than their San Antonio counterparts. Because of Manu Ginobili, the Spurs probably have the better bench, but Ginobili’s presence skewers this some. There aren’t many NBA teams in the league can bring a player off the bench comparable to Manu’s ability.

Is the sun setting on this Spurs championship or will their home environment reinvigorate them enough to get past the upstart Hornets and back to the Western Conference finals? It doesn’t look good from here but you can’t count out the champions until they’ve received that fourth playoff series loss. If the Hornets think this one’s over and they can start relaxing and getting ready for the Conference finals, they will get slapped back to reality really, really quickly.

Game 3 is Thursday night.