San Antonio may not keep its streak of 20-plus playoff appearances alive this season, but the Spurs likely will play a prominent role in keeping New Orleans from getting there. Seven months after spoiling Zion Williamson’s NBA debut by prevailing in the Smoothie King Center, the Spurs handed the Pelicans a back-breaking loss Sunday in their pursuit of a play-in berth.
New Orleans is now one Portland win away from being mathematically eliminated from contention for ninth place in the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers play both Sunday night and Tuesday afternoon, prior to the Pelicans facing the Kings on Tuesday evening.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
DeMar DeRozan hit a mid-range jumper and sank two free throws, giving San Antonio a 111-102 lead with 1:09 remaining. The Spurs were up 17 at halftime and later built a 20-point edge, before New Orleans mounted a second-half rally.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
JJ Redick was not going down without a fight. The veteran guard made it clear prior to the NBA’s restart that there are more important things in life than his career playoff streak, but he constantly played like a man possessed in trying to achieve a postseason trip. After competing in the playoffs in each of the first 13 years, Redick did everything in his power to help New Orleans secure a crucial win. The 36-year-old poured in 31 points, including draining eight three-pointers.
Redick shot 10/16 from the field and 8/12 from three-point range, but the rest of New Orleans was just 4/18 beyond the arc. Zion Williamson was also efficient offensively, notching 25 points in his 27 minutes. He made half of his 20 attempts from the floor.
BY THE NUMBERS
20: New Orleans turnovers. The Spurs took advantage by scoring 30 points off those turnovers.
10, 8: Minutes played for Pelicans first-round picks Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, respectively. The rookies gained some valuable experience by being on the floor for crucial moments early in the fourth quarter.
31/32: San Antonio foul shooting, paced by 7/7 afternoons from DeRozan and Rudy Gay. New Orleans was 17/22.