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San Antonio vs. New Orleans, Final Score: Spurs take homecoming game over pesky Pelicans 117-114

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Shorthanded Spurs use their star power and balanced attack to fend off the Pelicans.

New Orleans Pelicans v San Antonio Spurs
A dominant performance by DeRozan in his first action in two weeks helped San Antonio stave off New Orleans’ late push
Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

San Antonio started its four game homestand with an encouraging win despite being short-handed by an entire lineup of key players. The Spurs overcame an early deficit and chipped away at the Pelicans with different players asserting themselves throughout the game to secure the victory. San Antonio’s bench helped the team’s cause with a 34-20 advantage.

The Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan (32 points, 11 assists, 2 steals), Dejounte Murray (17 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals) led a balanced scoresheet for the victors. New Orleans’ tandem of Brandon Ingram (29 points and 5 assists) and Zion Williamson (23 points and 14 rebounds) paced the visitors who held a 53-38 rebound advantage.

Observations

  • In Keldon Johnson’s absence, Trey Lyles, in this rare start, drew the unenviable assignment of trying to slow down Zion Williamson. Lyles made two impressive drives to the rim in the second half that ended with hard-earned baskets and did yeoman’s work on the boards.
  • Sean Elliott called Jakob Poeltl and Pelicans center Steven Adams “two centers that LOVE the set shot” and harkening their shot preferences back to the “1950s”
  • With how long Steven Adams has inflicted damage on San Antonio’s frontlines, it’s hard to believe he’s only 27 years old.
  • Floppy Play: Though a bit slow in development, a Poeltl handoff resulted in a pretty Lonnie Walker IV floater early in the opening stanza.
  • Sequence of the Game: Dejounte Murray cleanly connected on a wing three, snatched the ball away from Williamson at the other end, and found a trailing Walker IV for a transition layup.
  • Sequence of the Game - Part 2: Murray swiped the ball away from an unwitting Nickeil Alexander-Walker and eurostepped around him downcourt for a dynamic and-1.
  • Williamson’s shot chart, where most of the makes are around the rim, resembles a toddler’s projectile vomit. His ability to beat other players to the rebound on his second jump is unmatched and must account for at least 14 of his points.
  • Luka Samanic gained some first half playing time and forced a turnover on Williamson on the baseline and nearly converted a tip dunk that would have brought the fan cutouts out of their seats.
  • In LaMarcus Aldridge’s first action back from hip rehabilitation, he clanked his first three outside shots, but steadied himself in the paint and the free throw line and found steadier going from distance in the second half.
  • Murray’s world-class ability to finish in traffic is wondrous to see and a boon for our late-in-the-shotclock options.
  • HEB / Spurs Commercials: “Does anyone else smell burnt fur?” delivered by Patty Mills still holds sway as one of the more memorable lines in Spurs commercial history - but well behind Manu Ginobili’s “Your hand man! It’s like you’re part bear!” quip to his former teammate.
  • New Orleans’ Brandon Ingram took his All-Star snub out on the Spurs early on - outscoring them 13-9 in the opening minutes. The Spurs bigs racked up a handful of fouls while Murray and DeRozan were the only Spurs that found some success from the field. Patty Mills hot shooting helped keep things close. and the Pelicans not named Ingram or Ball struggled to score. Despite the initial deficit, San Antonio exited the first quarter up 33-32.
  • Both teams traded buckets at-will to start the second period. Walker IV and Mills’ third threes respectively helped San Antonio gain the edge. Willy Hernangomez and Williamson swarmed the offensive boards to monstrous success for New Orleans. A Murray wing jumper gave the Spurs its biggest lead briefly at six. Poeltl was charged a dubious third foul setting a pick on a Oscar-worthy Eric Bledsoe flop late in the frame. DeRozan’s playmaking gave his team more cushion and the Spurs rode a 23-11 bench advantage to a 67-61 lead at the break.
  • Adams and Williamson continued to feast in the paint and on the offensive boards and the Spurs’ lead vanished quickly. DeRozan attacked New Orleans at the other end to increase the margin. A Top-10 worthy bounce pass from DeRozan to Walker IV for a highlight jam made it 80-72 halfway through. Mills’ fourth 3-pointer gave San Antonio its first double digit lead and it entered the final frame up 93-83.
  • San Antonio couldn’t connect on several open shots and a technical foul on coach Stan Van Gundy and the Pelicans capitalized with a 5-0 run. Williamson, intent on fouling out the Spurs’ frontline and getting his opponents into the penalty, attacked the rim early and often. A Kobe-like fadeaway by Ingram trimmed the Spurs’ deficit to three. DeRozan and Bledsoe engaged in a contest of ‘anything you do, I can do better’ and matched each other’s shotmaking. After Williamson missed two critical free throws, Poeltl was called for yet another dubious loose ball foul - his fifth - on the much burlier Adams. Williamson drew Aldridge’s fifth foul shortly after.
  • In the closing minutes, New Orleans lost a Coach’s challenge on an Ingram blocking foul. After Aldridge’s two free throws, Williamson converted two of his own. DeRozan converted a ‘Manu-Splitter’ high pick and roll and found Poeltl for the dunk. Lyles nabbed what appeared to be the first defensive rebound for San Antonio after an Adams miss. Williamson made a twisting layup. After a Lonzo Ball miss in transition, Murray secured the rebound and converted 1-of-2 from the line. Murray then eluded the Pelicans defenders after a rebound, found Mills on the sideline and he fed it to DeRozan for the deciding dunk.

For the Pelicans fan’s perspective, visit The Bird Writes.

The Spurs take on Kyried Irving and James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets Monday night at 7:30 PM CT.