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San Antonio at New Orleans, Final Score: Spurs lose a close one against the Pelicans 98-95

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The Spurs showed that they have plenty of heart, but they made too many mistakes to come back against the Pelicans in the final minutes.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game was pretty painful for most of the first three quarters as both the Pelicans and Spurs seemed to forget how to play basketball, and it was ugly to watch. The Spurs, on a SEGABABA, had the excuse of playing two complete games in a little over 24 hours, but the Pelicans were also in a funk for some reason, until they got it together in late in the game and used pick and roll with Brandon Ingram and Steven Adams to take the lead in the fourth quarter. A quick meeting with Pop rectified the defensive lapses and the Spurs had a shot to tie the game with 12 seconds left and couldn’t execute well enough to get a three point shot off to tie the game.

There were lots of positives to get out of this game, as the young guys did a good job on keeping Zion Williamson under control, and Rudy Gay almost pulled out a win for the good guys late. This will be a learning experience as the Silver and Black return to the Alamo City for their next game, against the Lakers on Wednesday night.

Observations

  • Hey, did you see the score of the Clippers vs. Mavericks game today? It seems like the Clippers might not be very good when Kawhi Leonard sits out a game, since they were behind by 50 at the half, and the entire second half was garbage time. With the compressed schedule this year and Kawhi’s load management, that might be something to watch.
  • I split time in the first quarter between watching the end of the Cowboys/Eagles football game and the Spurs. I don’t think I missed much as it was a pretty sloppy display.
  • Sometimes Poeltl plays with a little too much finesse. He needs to dunk more.
  • I know this is the third game of the season, but it seemed like Summer League early as passes were flying all over the court and shots were barely hitting iron. Both teams looked tired to start the game.
  • Not having fans in the stands really reduces the impact of the home court advantage. It’s going to be interesting to see whether fans are going to be in the arenas for this year’s Rodeo Road Trip. If fans aren’t back yet then, or even if the numbers are reduced, the Spurs could end up surviving that stretch in pretty good shape.
  • I’d like to say that the Spurs played great defense against the Pelicans, but it just seemed like both teams forgot how to play basketball tonight.
  • JJ Redick missed a lot of open shots tonight. That might have been the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.
  • Although the offense wasn’t there tonight, it’s hard to win any game when the opponent has 20 more free throw attempts. In this case, it was 28-8 Pelicans, where they outscored the Spurs 21-8.

Game Flow

Keldon Johnson scored the first 5 points for the Silver and Black as both teams were cold early. Both teams looked sluggish for the entire quarter, as neither team could find the basket, and the score after the first 12 minutes was 18-16 Spurs.

The Spurs stagnant offense continued into the second quarter, but the Pelicans got going for a 17-7 run to get a 6 point lead with Zion Williamson getting into the paint and using their aggressiveness to get to the line. Late in the quarter, the Spurs finally stopped playing exclusively one-on-one basketball and made a few Spursy plays, like the skip pass from Patty Mills to Rudy Gay for a wide-open triple that helped to close the deficit to 47-45 with the Pelicans in the lead at the half.

The third quarter started with two Spurs miscues that led to easy Zion Williamson dunks, with LaMarcus batting the ball to him under the basket and a turnover from Dejounte Murray. Lonnie Walker IV’s triple brought the Spurs back to within a point, but the Spurs defense wasn’t quick enough in transition, giving the Pelicans fast break baskets off of made baskets and turnovers as the Pelicans took a 7 point lead off a smooth Brandon Ingram drive to the basket. The aggressiveness of the Pelicans kept the Spurs on their heels as a 9-0 run gave New Orleans a 74-60 lead with 4 minutes left in the third. The Spur closed on a 11-5 run to trail 79-71 after three.

The Spurs started off the fourth quarter sharp, with Dejounte Murray finding his offense as he led the Spurs on a 14-3 run to take the lead. The defense picked up for the Silver and Black as they made life difficult for Zion in the paint, but they still are missing rotations allowing Brandon Ingram to get open in the midrange to regain the lead for the Pels. Ingram was big for them in the fourth as he drew a blocking foul on DeMar DeRozan that led to a tech on Demar as he disagreed with the call, and then he compounded the error, fouling Zion on the free throw rebound, giving them a 5 point possession. The Spurs had some good looks in the last couple of minutes and cut the lead to 3 with 29 seconds left. Two missed Steven Adams free throws gave the Spurs a shot to tie with 12 seconds left, but the Pelicans smothered the Spurs last offensive play and the Spurs lost 98-95.

Music Break

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What’s Next . . .

For the Pelicans fans’ perspective, visit The Bird Writes.

The Spurs have a couple of days off before they face the Lakers in the first of a pair of home games against the team from Los Angeles, the first on Wednesday night at 7:30. Their season record is now 2-1, and the Spurs are still on track to finish 71-1 this season.