The San Antonio Spurs snapped their franchise-high 18 game losing streak in an emphatic 129-115 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. With that monkey off their backs, they can move forward with the rest of their season. The new starting five that includes Victor Wembanyama playing center has been playing some solid basketball over the last few games. They’ll get a chance to start a winning streak against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Pelicans have been hot after losing to the Lakers in the In Season Tournament. They’re winners of three straight including a double-digit win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The last time the Spurs faced the Pelicans on December 1, they were defeated 121-106. The Pelicans dominated inside, led by Jonas Valančiūnas who had 24 points and 12 rebounds. San Antonio will need to compete on the interior to take down the Pelicans.
San Antonio Spurs (4-20) vs New Orleans Pelicans (15-11)
December 17, 2023 | 2:30 PM CT
Watch: Bally | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: Charles Bassey – Out (left ACL,) Dominick Barlow – Questionable (G League,) Charles Bediako – Out (G League,) Sidy Cissoko – Questionable (G League,) Zach Collins – Probable (left knee,) David Duke Jr. – Out (G League,) Tre Jones – Questionable (illness,) Blake Wesley – Questionable (G League)
Pelicans Injuries: Kira Lewis – Out (G League,) Larry Nance Jr. – Out (right rib,) Matt Ryan – Out (right elbow,) Dereon Seabron – Out (G League,) Cody Zeller – Available (face)
What to watch for
One of the reasons the Spurs offense was so effective against the Lakers was they took care of the basketball. They turned the ball over just 9 times on Friday night. The Spurs turn the ball over 16 times a game, the 3rd most in the NBA. The Pelicans are adept at creating turnovers, stealing the ball 8.2 times a game, seventh most in the league. Keeping turnovers to a minimum will be key for San Antonio’s offense to operate at the efficiency displayed against the Lakers.
Keeping it up defensively
The Spurs have been improving defensively all season. Moving Wembanyama to the center position full-time has done them wonders in that regard. The last time they played the Pelicans, they gave up easy driving lanes that led to kick outs and dump offs, where Valančiūnas thrived. San Antonio has done much better at containing drives, and Wembanyama has altered any shots that do come at the rim.
The Pelicans have a number of players who can hurt you on the offensive end. C.J. McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Trey Murphy III can all get to the basket and finish. The Spurs will have their hands full stopping the Pelicans from scoring inside.
Vassell stays hot
Devin Vassell was spectacular against the Lakers on Friday night. He had a career-high 36 points in a dominant performance. He shot 5-10 from deep, but scored 15 of his points attacking the basket. Vassell is a good shooter, but being a threat to put pressure on the rim makes him an even more dynamic scorer. Look for Vassell to stay aggressive against the Pelicans.