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San Antonio vs. New Orleans, Final Score: Poor second half dooms Spurs against Pelicans, 106-123

The Spurs were done in again by New Orleans’ runs at the start of the third and fourth quarters

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans
Despite 12 first-half points, Zach Collins and the Spurs overwhelmed by New Orleans’ length and girth in the second half
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

After a tough home loss to Atlanta Thursday night, the Spurs kept pace with the Pelicans for a half, exchanging the lead with them ten times, before falling prey to another poor second half showing amidst 20+ turnovers. With the 121-106 home win, New Orleans moved to 11-9 and San Antonio (3-16) suffered its 14th straight defeat in the process.

Rookie Victor Wembanyama sat out tonight with hip tightness, and his production was replaced mostly by balanced contribution. While Zach Collins (12 points and 5 rebounds) and Jeremy Sochan (13 points and 4 rebounds) paced the starters, it was Charles Bassey (8 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks), Devin Vassell (14 points), and Cedi Osman (11 points and 5 assists) that made the outcome more fraught for the Pelicans.

Jonas Valunciunas (24 points and 12 rebounds) dominated in the paint and the hot-shooting pair of Trey Murphy III (18 points and 3 rebounds) and Herb Jones (17 points and 4 rebounds) hit from afar. They spearheaded a stat sheet dominated by the New Orleans’ starters, overcoming a rare off night shooting for forward Brandon Ingram.

In a very high energy and competitive first period (both teams ended up shooting an identical 11-for-21!), San Antonio was bolstered by balanced scoring - particularly energized efforts by Collins and Osman, while Valanciunas led a parade of contributors for New Orleans in claiming a one point advantage.

The Pelicans ramped up their defensive intensity in the second quarter and kept the Spurs largely to the perimeter in growing their lead. San Antonio stormed back behind hot distance shooting (8 for 15 from three) to pull ahead briefly until the Pelicans resumed scoring at will.

When the Spurs became turnover happy in the third quarter, New Orleans threatened to run away with a very strong push by their hot shooting swingmen, but San Antonio’s bench did bring the deficit under double-digits to give them a shot in the fourth.

Observations

  • The referee team was trimmed to just two after Scott Wall limped off with a lower body injury just three minutes in.
  • For critics of San Antonio’s HemisFair unis, those neon NOLA jerseys the Pelicans wore are whatever the opposite of ‘chef’s kiss’ is.
  • With his goggles, Cody Zeller looks as if he was transported directly from the mid-90s to tonight’s game.
  • Similar to Jeremy Sochan’s move last year to shoot freebies one-handed, maybe Collins needs to bank his straightaway threes!
  • Sochan looks more comfortable as a secondary playmaker when Tre Jones and Keldon Johnson share the burden with him.
  • Valuncianas, who has done major damage to the Spurs while with Memphis and New Orleans, bullied his way to his team’s first six points.
  • Devin’s Deeds: That side-step shooting form looks so natural and puro. More please!
  • Sequence of the Game #1: Straight out of the gate, Collins turned away an Ingram shot, and Johnson found Julian Champagnie running to the corner for three.
  • Both teams went hard at each other and traded leads for much of the first quarter. Osman netted a touchdown of points upon entry, while twice finding Bassey for buckets. New Orleans’ perimeter players repeatedly drove right through the Spurs’ defenders for layup after layup. Trey Murphy’s monster jam put the Pelicans up 32-31.
  • Williamson forgot in the first frame that he is 290 pounds, but came out forcefully in the second and drew several fouls. The Spurs did well by avoiding the foul bonus as long as they did despite picking up three so quickly. A five point flurry by Malaki Branham put San Antonio up five, but Pelicans players answered very push from the visitors. Valanciunas turned away two Spurs’ jumpers and earned an and-1 at the other end, and New Orleans went into the break up 63-61.
  • In a hectic start to the third, Julian Champagnie swished his first jumpers, while Valanciunas continued to tear apart whoever stood between he and the rim. San Antonio squandered countless possessions, as the Pelicans pulled away behind Murphy’s hot shooting. Despite the Spurs totalling eight points in the first eight minutes of the period, a Tre Jones three brought them closer. Murphy’s three took New Orleans to 89-81 after three.
  • CJ McCollum tried to carry the Pelican’s offense to start the final quarter, but Sochan also found his shooting touch. Bassey closed out impressively to block a Valanciunas fadeaway. A pair of Murphy threes made a San Antonio comeback next to impossible. Ingram threw an errant pass right to Pop and he half-mimicked a shooting motion in heaving the ball back onto the court.

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

San Antonio gets four days off before visiting Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, December 6 at 6:30 PM CDT.