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San Antonio vs. New Orleans, Final Score: Spurs bench routs Pelicans 98-79

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The Spurs defense kept Anthony Davis in check, holding him to just 18 points as the Spurs dominated the game with balanced scoring led by Kawhi Leonard with solid contributions from the bench including Nicolas Laprovittola

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Davis started the NBA season on a tear, scoring 95 points in his first two games, but tonight he came back to earth as the Spurs defense kept him from dominating.  He only scored 18 points, as he sat out the end of the game as the score got out of hand late.  The Spurs led comfortably for most of the game, and Spurs fans were treated to good performances from several newcomers to the Silver and Black, most notably Nicolas Laprovittola, who did an admirable job of leading the team when he was called upon.

Game Flow:

The Pelicans started the scoring with a three-point shot from Tim Frazier, but Patty Mills answered with a triple of his own, and then Pau Gasol got into the act with a jumper and a triple.  The teams played pretty evenly for most of the quarter, with Anthony Davis mostly being kept in check, only scoring 6 in the quarter.  The quarter ended on a high note for the Spurs with a Kawhi Leonard deflection leading to a breakaway for Nicolas Laprovittola who drew a clear path from Lance Stephenson with 7 seconds left in the quarter.

Nico hit both his free throws and was able to get off a floater in the lane which bounced high off the basket, too high it seemed for anyone to reach.  But Jonathon Simmons got to it, maybe 2 feet above the rim and slammed it through. Because it was offensive goaltending, it cost the Spurs two points, but it was spectacular anyway. The quarter ended with the Spurs up 28-23.

The second quarter was contested pretty evenly over the first six minutes, but Nico continued to impress, hitting a pretty and one shot with 6:07 left, stretching the Spurs lead to 10 at 39-29.

Both teams made impressive defensive plays

Anthony Davis was held to just 14 points in the first half, and when Patty hit a buzzer-beater to end the half, the Spurs led 55-45 going into the locker room.

Kawhi Leonard only scored four points in the first half of the game, but he began to make up for that by scoring the first seven points for the Spurs as the third quarter began.  Overall, he scored 16 points in the quarter, and he could have scored more, but the bench entered the game and extended the lead behind the hustle and unselfish passing of players like David Lee and Laprovittola. For the Pelicans, it seemed only E'twaun Moore and Anthony Davis could do anything on offense for the Pelicans, and it wasn't enough.  The Spurs outscored them 28-15 in the quarter and led 83-60 after three.

The fourth quarter saw the NBA debut of Dejounte Murray, who entered the game for Nico with 8:47 left. Jonathon Simmons continues to impress with his ability to get to the basket in traffic.

The game belonged to the Spurs bench players with plenty of pretty plays, including a beautiful Bertans catch and shoot to beat the shot clock. Murray was a little too nervous and had a few bad shots and turnovers, but he showed a lot of promise if he could get his athleticism under control.  Nothing much else of interest happened in the extended garbage time, and the game ended with the Spurs winning 98-79.

Observations:

  • There's been a lot of hand-wringing among Spurs fans because Pau Gasol didn't have great games in his first two outings in a Spurs uniform. He looked alright to start the game, scoring 7 of the Spurs first 12 points, with Patty Mills scoring the other five.
  • I spelled Jonathon Simmons name correctly every time he was mentioned in this article.  That's a big improvement over my last recap.
  • Did Davis Bertans play?  YES!
  • Dewayne Dedmon is a pretty good shooter for not even picking up a basketball until he was 18. There's a lot more to his game than just taking up space inside. His only weakness is that he's not great catching the ball in traffic, but he's still light years ahead of Jeff Ayres when he was on the Spurs in that respect.
  • Twitter is discontinuing Vine, and it seems like they quit working during the game. I know they're trying to sell the company, but getting rid of one of the best features seems like a bad idea.
  • The Spurs ran a play to get Bryn Forbes an open three-point shot as soon as he entered the game, and he drained it. I think he might just do fine as an NBA player.
  • Does anyone remember this guy?
  • Dejounte Murray looks really athletic out there, but he looks a little too amped up, leading to a few turnovers and missed opportunities. He's going to be a great player once he gets his footing out there.
  • Kawhi only scored 20 points and had 2 steals, which is really going to hurt his averages. But he was great, even in the first half when he wasn't scoring much.
  • I never give Patty Mills enough credit in these recaps, but he had a terrific game. He showed he could be a starter and distribute the ball and still keep scoring. The conventional wisdom is that he's only good in lineups with Manu Ginobili or another guard that can help with ball handling, but tonight he was terrific as a traditional NBA point.

Music for the kids (from 1965):

Up Next:

The Spurs head to Miami to play the Heat at 5:00 pm San Antonio time. The Heat are a rebuilding team led by Hassan Whiteside, so it's not really a rivalry any more. But with the quick turnaround, it will still be a challenge for the good guys.