The Spurs wrapped up a playoff spot on Monday night by beating the Kings at home, but they’re a different team on the road. Not a good one. The New Orleans Pelicans put away the game early, with a surge led by Anthony Davis just before halftime to put the Pelicans up by 18. The Spurs weren’t able to mount a challenge in the second half, and Brandon Paul and Davis Bertans got extensive minutes in garbage time as the Spurs closed out the season on a losing note.
The Spurs scored first on a Dejounte Murray tip in off a missed shot from LaMarcus Aldridge. But the Spurs weren’t that sharp, leaving Anthony Davis open under that basket and Nikola Mirotic on the perimeter as the Pelicans rushed out to a 10-4 lead. The teams traded baskets for a while, but when Anthony Davis mauled Murray under the basket and did not get called for a foul, Gregg Popovich earned a technical foul. The Spurs played with more fire for the rest of the quarter with Rudy Gay and Tony Parker making solid contributions, but the Pels hung tough and led 27-26 after the first 12 minutes.
Manu’s triple tied it up early, but Spurs turnovers led to Pelican fast breaks as Jrue Holiday got some easy baskets to give the birds an early 6 point lead. Kyle Anderson used his length to come back at Holiday and cut the lead to a point. The Spurs went on a field goal drought, but their defense and frankly, some poor shooting by the Pelicans, kept the lead from getting out of hand, until late in the quarter when the Pelicans pushed the lead to double digits with a 11-0 run, with Davis using his speed to get to the basket and the birds getting to the loose balls. It got worse, with a clear path foul from Manu after a bad pass to end any chance of the Spurs coming back before the half. The Pelicans led 61-43 at the half after a 19-4 run to end the half, turning a 3 point lead into 18 in just over 5 minutes.
The Spurs looked discombobulated to start the second half, and after a slow start, the Pelicans pushed the lead to over 20 points. Kyle Anderson and Danny Green hit three point shots, but the porous defense of the Silver and Black gave up plenty of easy points in the paint for Davis and various other Pelicans. The Spurs finally started to hit some shots with Bryn Forbes getting open, but their inability to get stops kept them from making much of a dent in the big lead for New Orleans. With about 3 minutes left in the third, Brandon Paul was inserted into the lineup, and it was starting to look like it was time for a white flag. The Spurs cut the lead to 13, but couldn’t hold it as the Pelicans led 90-72 after three quarters.
Neither team could score early in the fourth, until finally Anthony Davis got fouled by Pau Gasol and hit one of two free throws. The Spurs started to show signs of life by grinding out baskets, but the quickness of New Orleans, with the marquee play being a slick reverse dunk by Davis off the fast break put it away early for the Pelicans. Popovich put in a lineup of deep bench players with Davis Bertans, Joffrey Lauvergne, Brandon Paul, Bryn Forbes and Dejounte. They scrapped hard, but couldn’t stop Anthony Davis and the Pels. With the game well in hand, the biggest question in my mind was why Anthony Davis was still playing. Perhaps Gentry heard me, because he was pulled with just over 4 minutes left for Cheick Diallo. The Pelicans bench kept pouring on the points, and they won 122-98.
- The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it. This quote from Omar Khayyam kind of sums up how I feel about this season. It was tough to live through it, but now that it’s over, it’s time to move forward and see what this team can do in the post season.
- Anthony Davis gets away with a lot of fouls under the basket. I guess that’s part of being a superstar, but a lot of his spectacular blocks really should be free throws for the shooter. I guess that’s part of being a superstar in this league.
- “He’s 41, grab the ^&%^*%ing ball!”-Alvin Gentry to Jrue Holiday when he was contesting a loose ball against Manu Ginobili. Gentry is doing a great job with this team.
- Mirotic does not look good without a beard. But you can’t argue with how it’s affected his play.
- Dejounte Murray played the entirety of garbage time even though the rest of the starters were benched early in the fourth. He kept playing hard, and he certainly could use the experience.
- Congratulations to the Austin Spurs for the G-League Championship. Can Derrick White get some minutes on the San Antonio team now?
You may ask yourself, well, how did we get here?
Same as it ever was.
The Spurs have locked up a spot in the playoffs but the seeding will be determined by a few more games later tonight. They’ll play either Saturday or Sunday, and they will definitely be on the road. See you there.