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Game Preview: New Orleans Pelicans look to avenge bad loss to San Antonio Spurs

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Could Sunday’s game be the yearly nail-biter we’ve come to expect when Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and their teams play?

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (9-19) face the San Antonio Spurs (21-5) Sunday evening inside the AT&T Center. The game will be televised on Fox Sports New Orleans as well as Fox Sports Southwest, or heard over the airwaves on WRNO 99.5FM.

The previous meeting between the teams occurred back in October, with the Spurs thrashing the Pelicans by a 98-79 margin. Anthony Davis was held to 18 points, and Alvin Gentry dropped a line you may still remember:

“We’ve got to continue to work. We’ve played 3 games; we’ve got 79 left. And so contrary to what everyone believes, our season is not over yet.”

After an enormously lackluster effort against the Rockets in Houston this past Friday, the Pelicans sit 10 games under .500 after just 29 contests. If that game was any indication, they still have miles of work to do, but the window to turn around a horrible start to the season is closing fast.

On the other side of the floor tomorrow evening, things couldn’t look much brighter. The Spurs have won 16 of their last 18 on the schedule, and Kawhi Leonard has yet to miss a game while remaining an all-world performer. For the month of December, he is averaging 24.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.7 treys.

What to Watch:

Anthony Davis’ Attire. At the time of the writing, Davis is listed as questionable on the injury report. In Friday’s game, he was kicked in the leg and sustained a contusion that limited his minutes against the Rockets. Following that game, Gentry was confident the latest malady wouldn’t be a problem, but I’m sure we’d all sleep better if he was listed as probable. The roster this season has shown little chance of winning a game without their superstar.

Pelican Shooters. The Spurs do not beat themselves and they rarely have an off night knocking down shots; consequently, it’ll be on the Pelicans, one of the worst-shooting teams in the league, to come up with something special. In the past, Ryan Anderson’s flame throwing ways used to help carry New Orleans to upset wins against San Antonio. Can several players step up in his absence and give Davis a much needed hand with the scoring load? When opponents shoot for a higher FG%, the Spurs have a very mortal 4-5 record.

Bench Play. The Spurs have one of the best benches in the league, but the Pelicans are no slouches either, especially from a scoring standpoint. In order for New Orleans to prevail, reserves like Terrence Jones, Langston Galloway and Tim Frazier have to make an impact. Perhaps Tyreke Evans, who is expected to play, can also provide a nice spark.

Geaux Pelicans!