Panzura postgame wrap: Spurs 117, Pelicans 114
Spurs (17-12), Pelicans (14-19)
San Antonio has been forced to rearrange its lineup a lot lately due to player absences, but the Spurs relied on a couple very familiar names Saturday in holding off New Orleans in the AT&T Center. DeMar DeRozan navigated two-point range to spearhead the hosts' attack, while longtime Spurs reserve Patty Mills hit from deep (4 of 10), leading San Antonio to a Southwest Division victory.
For a second straight game on a brief road trip, New Orleans kept battling back and had a chance to prevail at the end, but like Thursday’s four-point defeat in Milwaukee, the Pelicans couldn’t come up with enough buckets in crunch time. Stan Van Gundy noted afterward that New Orleans is putting itself in situations where it must score in bunches to be able to make up for not being consistent defensively.
“That’s the problem, when you have to shoot the ball well to win,” Van Gundy said, in response to a question about a couple Pelicans players enduring cold nights. “That’s going to be a problem. Guys are going to have bad nights shooting the ball. You’ve got to be able to win games where you don’t shoot well, and right now we can’t. We’re totally dependent on our offense to win games, and that’s not going to take you very far.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Mills dished to DeRozan for a breakaway dunk, giving San Antonio a six-point lead with 11 seconds left. New Orleans was forced to use its final timeout. The Pelicans had a chance to tie the game in the final minute, but missed a three-point attempt. Lonzo Ball swished a three-pointer from the right sideline at the buzzer, accounting for the final margin.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Brandon Ingram enjoyed a fantastic first quarter and was tough to stop from mid-range. His 29 points came on 11/23 shooting. He added five rebounds and four assists.
BY THE NUMBERS
7: Total margin of defeat on the two-game road trip to Milwaukee and San Antonio. Zion Williamson on the Pelicans being close to prevailing against two quality hosts: “I’ll say this. I feel like we’re almost there. (There are) a final few things we need to figure out, but we’re almost there. Nights like this are frustrating, but we just have to figure those small things out, and I think we’ll be there.”
9/32: New Orleans three-point shooting. The Pelicans had a tough night from the arc and missed a series of good looks they desperately needed to sink in the final couple minutes.
25/31: New Orleans foul shooting, representing a pretty good night – especially for a team that struggles in this area – but the Pelicans missed a few crucial ones in the second half. Van Gundy jokingly complimented San Antonio for its successful "defense" on free throws.
Revisiting three keys to victory
DEFENSE LIKE DEC. 27
The chances of New Orleans holding San Antonio to 95 points – as it did in a narrow home win Dec. 27 – pretty much evaporated when the Spurs scored 67 points in Saturday’s first half. The visiting defense was better in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.
STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH
The sixth-ranked Pelicans offense against the seventh-ranked Spurs defense was basically a draw as NOLA scored 114 points, but San Antonio should be content with the visitors shooting only 44 percent from the field and 28 percent on threes.
Ball and Eric Bledsoe combined to make 10 threes Thursday at Milwaukee, but couldn’t repeat the same level of jump shooting Saturday. The starting guards were 5/17 from deep in Texas. Bledsoe had a strong game overall, though, contributing at both ends of the floor.