The New Orleans Pelicans have routinely played the San Antonio Spurs tough. Partly this can be explained by the Spurs staying big much of the time, allowing Anthony Davis to play as a power forward comfortably. Still, a 4-2 record coming into tonight over the last two years must be infuriating to San Antonio fans. This makes no sense!
The first half was a back and forth affair with neither team really seizing control. New Orleans fell behind nine at one point in the second quarter and it felt like like San Antonio could break it open. Luke Babbitt and Jrue Holiday canned back-to-back 3-pointers to keep the game competitive. A fun little run going into the half put the Pelicans up 46-45 in the locker rooms.
Anthony Davis took an unintentional elbow to the face from Tim Duncan; one possession after sending a Duncan attempt into the stands to force a shot clock violation. Despite bleeding profusely and requiring a trip to the locker room for stitched Davis was also called for a personal foul, sending Duncan to the free throw line. While the basketball gods have been especially unkind to the Pelicans this season, Timmy missed the first free throw proving once again that the ball does not lie.
How did the Pelicans respond? Let's get weird!
Pelicans 65, Spurs 61 2:36 3Q | Pels’ last 15 points are all from Gee, Perk, Gordon and Cole.— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) March 4, 2016
There is literally no explanation for that sequence. Good luck repeating it on NBA 2k16, regardless of the difficulty setting. Eric Gordon buried a 3-pointer from well beyond 30 feet to push that lead to 68-61. I cannot imagine how Spurs fans, used to blowing out bad teams, must feel about the constant struggle these mediocre Pelicans provide in nearly every contest between these two franchises.
Silver lining alert! The early rest for Davis in the third quarter increased his minutes with Jrue Holiday down the stretch. In fact, both checked in together with 1:20 remaining in the third quarter. Davis promptly airballed a 16 footer and followed it up with a missed layup. Still, rolling into the fourth quarter the game was tied at 68 with a well rested Davis and Holiday to carry the load down the stretch.
Unsurprisingly, pairing Davis and Holiday worked out pretty ok. In the first six minutes the Pelicans build an 81-74 lead with Holiday scoring or assisting on all 13 Pelican points. That stretch continued with assists to Dante Cunningham and Anthony Davis. In total Holiday accounted for 18 consecutive points, but unfortunately the Spurs offense really got hot.
Down the stretch the Pelicans fell apart. Again. San Antonio scored on eight consecutive possessions, many off wide open jump shots after collapsing the New Orleans defense. A four point lead with three and a half minutes to go disintegrated before everyone's eyes. After San Antonio tied the game at 86 Eric Gordon, who had been hot most of the night, missed three consecutive shots. Two of those shots were blocked by Tim Duncan. Duncan, thanks to the presence of Kendrick Perkins in a crunch time lineup, was free to blockade the paint without any threat of reprisal.
San Antonio buried three straight WIDE OPEN jumpers, two behind the arc, and a tie game turned into a comfortable eight point margin. Anthony Davis did not attempt a shot in the final three minutes.
Next up, the Utah Jazz on Saturday. #TankFlight