In their final home game ahead of the Rodeo Road Trip, the Spurs finally brought the proper level of respect against a depleted opponent...at least for 43 minutes. They nearly led wire-to-wire against a Pelicans club that was missing five of its top six scorers and going through some trade drama with Anthony Davis. They had the lead as high as 22 in the fourth quarter, but the third string decided to make it interesting in the final minutes, forcing Gregg Popovich to reinsert the Mid Three after the lead was cut to 3 with 38 seconds left. They managed to hold on for a 113-108 win: their fifth straight.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a 25-point, 14-rebound double-double, with five other Spurs reaching double figures. Six Pelicans also scored in double figures, led by 25 from Frank Jackson.
- It took less than three minutes for at least one bat to return to the AT&T Center court, sending the players scrambling. However, this time Bat Coyote was ready for action and caught it with his net on a diving save.
- When did these ninja tie headbands take over the league? LeBron James doesn’t wear headbands anymore (I guess he gave up on hiding that receding hairline), but if he did I’d love to know if he’d be down with this new style.
- DeMar DeRozan is really starting to take exception with the lack of respect he gets from the officials. He picked up his 6th technical of the season (who was the last Spur not named Pop to have so many?) after he was called for a shooting foul on Jrue Holiday. He had just gotten clobbered on the other end with no call.
- Aldridge joined the 18,000 point club in the first half. He remains one of the most productive players in the league since he was drafted as he is the only player in the NBA with 18,000 points and 7,000 rebounds since 2006. Not even championship-winning, in-his-prime LeBron (who is probably behind on the rebounds) can make such a claim. Think about that!
- Speaking of which, Alvin Gentry might regret giving Aldridge one of his All Star reserve votes because he continued to play like one and dominate the paint against his depleted team.
- In a growing trend, Pau Gasol was the first center off the bench, and this time Jakob Poeltl didn’t come in until garbage time (in the previous few games he was the back-up center for all of the second half). It begs the question if Pop is trying to see if he can handle giving both of them minutes, see which one he prefers, or is possibly trying to increase Gasol’s trade value ahead of the deadline. He finished the game with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists and moved up to 37th all-time on the NBA scoring chart.
- The Spurs closed the final five minutes of the third quarter with a line-up of Patty Mills, Bryn Forbes, Marco Belinelli, Davis Bertans and Gasol. They were a force on offense — Sean Elliott called them “the chaotic group” — but it’s kinda strange when you can arguably say Bertans is your best defender on the court. Ultimately they were only outscored by 2 with that group on the floor and both teams trading shots.
- Of course the Spurs finally put an opponent away early (almost), allowing for an emptying of the bench once Lonnie Walker IV is back in Austin.
- Forbes actually had a clean block of a Jackson on a high-flying dunk attempt in the waning moments. Had the refs not called a foul, it might have been the defensive play of his career. Without those free throws, maybe this one doesn’t go down nearly to the final possession again, but that’s still all on the Spurs. Again.
For the Pelicans fans’ perspective, visit The Bird Writes.
The Spurs are heading West to begin the Rodeo Road Trip vs. the Sacramento Kings. Tip-off will be at 9:30 PM CT on FSSW.