San Antonio Spurs @ New Orleans PelicansAT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
February 3, 2014, 7:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
For the second time this season, the San Antonio Spurs overcame a bad third quarter against the Sacramento Kings with a strong fourth quarter effort to steal a victory. It was a needed win for a Spurs team that has been hobbled with injuries throughout the lineup. A win against the Kings won't stop any "San Antonio can't be a top team this season" talk, but it did stop a losing-streak. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker led the way offensively for the Spurs, while Tiago Splitter made his return to the starting lineup, which will help with the bench rotation and the defensive rotations on the floor.
The New Orleans Pelicans, and their terrifying mascot, host San Antonio tonight. In their last game, New Orleans knocked off a Chicago team that recently beat the Spurs. The Pelicans are 5-5 over their last 10 games, and Anthony Davis is becoming more of a force in this league. New Orleans is still a few pieces away from competing for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they are a team that can beat anyone in the league if they are shooting well that night.
New Orleans resides in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories, ranking 17th in points per game, 19th in rebounds per game, 14th in assists per game and 19th in points allowed. There's just not a lot that this team does great, especially with point guard Jrue Holiday out with a fractured tibia. That has put all of the pressure, on both ends of the court, on Davis. "The Brow" is starting to find his stride and he may one day end up being what we all thought Dwight Howard could be when he entered the league. In a league devoid of great big men, Davis has a chance to be one of the next real stars in the post because of his athleticism and length.
Against Chicago, Davis scored 24 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had six blocks. He went 10-of-14 from the field and was perfect on four free throw attempts. Add in three assists and three steals and you can see why people around the league are starting to mention Davis when naming the most feared big men in the league. For the season, Davis is averaging just over 20 points and 10 rebounds with a 27.1 PER. All of this as the lone guy opposing defenses really have to plan for with Holiday and Ryan Anderson being injured.
In the win over Chicago, Davis was the lone Pelican starter to score in double digits. Guards Eric Gordon and Tyreke Evans are averaging over 10 points per game for the season, but not having Anderson and Holiday cripples what New Orleans was trying to accomplish around Davis. Brian Roberts has filled in at point guard for Holiday, but Evans is the guy to watch down the stretch because of his offensive game. The former rookie of the year has found a home, and a role in New Orleans, but he appears to be a guy that will never live up to the hype that surrounded him after his first season in Sacramento.
Al-Farouq Aminu and Alexis Ajinca start at the three and five position, respectively, for the Pelicans, but Jeff Withey and Greg Stiemsma have been logging as many minutes at center as Ajinca. Austin Rivers and Anthony Morrow provide minutes off of the bench at the guard position, but Rivers is another guy that has fallen well short of expectations.
Much like the matchup with Sacramento, the Spurs are the better team on paper even with the injuries. New Orleans has two normal starters out as well, so that excuse won't hold up as much tonight as it has over the past few weeks if the Spurs leave the floor with a loss.
Matchup to watch: Stopping the Pelicans is pretty simple in theory: slow down Anthony Davis. With a healthy Duncan and Splitter, the Spurs should have enough bodies to throw at Davis the entire game, especially now that Boris Diaw can get back to his role as the first big off of the bench.
Pelicans perspective may be found at The Bird Writes.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 5.
Line in Vegas: Spurs by 4.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.
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