The Spurs returned home from a quick road trip to take on the rising New Orleans Pelicans for the second time in ten days, and it didn’t look promising from the outset against a much larger team with Jakob Poeltl and Jeremy Sochan still out (plus bench leaders, Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott). While the Spurs used a couple for big runs to take a surprising lead into halftime, the Pelicans woke up in the second half and put them away with relative ease, handing the Spurs their tenth straight loss, 99-117.
Devin Vassell led five Spurs in double figures with 25 points on 5-12 shooting from three, and Zion Williamson once against had his way in San Antonio with a near triple-double of 30 points, 18 rebounds and 8 assists.
- Brett Brown had the head coaching duties tonight as the Spurs got even more shorthanded without Gregg Popovich, who will miss two games after a minor medical procedure. He did show up to the game with the intention of coaching, but after participating in the media session, he reportedly decided he wasn’t up for it and assigned Brown for the next two games.
- The Spurs got out to another rough offensive start with Keldon Johnson airballing his first three of the game, but he would soon hit one after two from Devin Vassell for the Spurs’ first three buckets. Still, they started the quarter shooting 3-13 and didn’t hit their first two until a Zach Collins layup over six minutes in. Fortunately, after the Pelicans got the lead out to 10, the bench came in and helped close the quarter on an 11-3 run to get back within two, 24-26.
- I don’t know if it’s part of the Spurs’ defensive scheme or if the players just can’t help themselves, but they have to stop double-teaming in the post if they aren’t going to rotate to the open shooter. Teams have been killing them from three for that exact reason, and it continued to be an issue at times tonight, especially at the start of the game and as the Pelicans pulled away in the second half.
- I assumed since it was David Robinson Bobblehead night, he would be the second quarter guest, but he wasn’t even there (from what I could tell). Bummer. I was looking forward listening to him chat it up and reminisce with Sean Elliott on the broadcast.
- The Spurs continued to struggle shooting in the second quarter as the Pelicans gradually built another 10-point lead, but like they did in first quarter, the Spurs responded with a 15-2 run to take a 52-49 lead into halftime. Charles Bassey, fresh off a double-double for Austin last night, brought his signature energy on both ends, and Vassell hit two more threes to push the Spurs into the lead.
- Somehow, the Spurs outscored the Pelicans in the paint in the first half, 26-20. That seems odd with no Poeltl or Sochan to help with Zion and Jonas Valanciunas, but some of that may have had to do with Willamson getting to the foul line ten times in the first half, preventing some of his own chances for points in the paint. Four Spurs had two fouls in the first half, and it got to the point they were looking exacerbated because the refs wouldn’t even let them try to defend Zion without calling a foul, even when he created the contact.
- Most of the third quarter was back-and-forth between the two teams, but after not being a factor in the first half, Spurs killer Jose Alvarado came in and turned the game with his pesky play, getting steals, drawing an iffy charge away from the ball, and hitting a three to help fuel an 11-2 Pelicans run to give them the lead back heading into the fourth quarter, 81-71. They would continue to gradually pull away throughout the fourth quarter to seal the win and send the Spurs spiraling to their 10th straight loss. (The franchise record is 13 from 1987, for anyone who wanted to know.)
- It was a rough night for Zach Collins. Despite getting the start, he only had 7 points on 3-11 shooting (0-5 from three) and fouled out midway through the fourth quarter after just 22 minutes of play. Meanwhile, Bassey was the only Spur who had a positive plus/minus outside of garbage time with +12. That may seem like an illusion in what turned out to be another blowout loss, but the energy and effort was there, and the Spurs were visibly better when he was on the court. He finished the night with 11 points on 5-5 shooting, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
For the Pelicans fans’ perspective, visit The Bird Writes.
The Spurs return to the AT&T Center on Sunday to take on the West-leading Phoenix Suns. It will be an early tipoff at 3:00 PM CT on Bally Sports San Antinio.