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The Spurs rode defense and Dejounte Murray to victory over the Pelicans

Strong showings on both ends of court let the Spurs to victory over their divisional for.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a little ironic that, after making probably-a-franchise-record THREE trades on Deadline Day that were probably intended for the team “tank” for a better draft spot, the Spurs went out and won their next two games anyway.

It’s a little more ironic that they went out and beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, 124-114. New Orleans made one of the headlining moves on Deadline Day by acquiring CJ McCollum hoping to vault Portland for a spot in the postseason play-in, but the Pelicans have now lost two games since.

McCollum torched San Antonio for 36 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. But Dejounte Murray nearly matched him, posting 31 points, seven boards and 12 assists, joining Tony Parker as the only two Spurs with 30+ points and 10+ assists in back-to-back games.

Devin Vassell noted in his postgame interview “(Defense) is what we thrive on. You know, we get stops, we get out in transition and I think that’s the best offense we have. So it starts with DJ when he’s getting steals and we all feed off it, we get out in transition and we get easy points.”

The Spurs forced 15 turnovers and scored 19 points off of them. The team’s newly-minted All-Star was one of three players for the Silver and Black with two steals — and was consistently terrifying on the fast break. Jakob Poeltl’s four blocks on the night proved to be useful outlet passes, too.

Lonnie Walker IV got a chance to make up for the mishandled alley-oop later in the first half, throwing down a jam on a feed from Tre Jones that was sparked by a steal from two-way player Devontae Cacok. Walker had his best game this month, scoring 17 points on 8-13 shooting.

Walker wasn’t the only one with a monster dunk in the game. Jock Landale caught a pair of bodies — Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes — and ended the night with 10 points.

Keldon Johnson was the team’s second-highest scorer with 16 points and has seemingly had a better grasp his role more and more these past few weeks. Johnson is averaging 19.3 points per game in February on 50% shooting from the field and 40.1% shooting from deep. He’s taking about 14 shots per game, an increase from the 11 or 12 he took in past months. And with Derrick White no longer on the team, Johnson should be able to keep taking those extra looks.

You can catch the full-game highlights below. The Spurs play in the fourth game of their Rodeo Road Trip on Monday, taking out the Chicago Bulls at 7 p.m. CT.