SAN ANTONIO – The final two games of preseason are Alvin Gentry’s opportunity to pare down a rotation that he acknowledged probably can’t include more than 10 players. The way the Pelicans are performing this month, it’s not making those decisions any easier.
Seven different Pelicans reached double digits in scoring Sunday, spearheading New Orleans to a fourth straight exhibition win. Zion Williamson led the group by tallying 22 points, highlighted by 8/11 shooting from the field. The No. 1 overall draft pick actually improved upon his rate through three games, which was already a sky-high 71 percent. Four New Orleans starters and three reserves cracked 10-plus points, with Jrue Holiday next behind Williamson, supplying 16 points in only 22 minutes.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
As has been their habit in preseason, the Pelicans stepped on the gas in the fourth quarter, building a double-digit advantage early in the period. Despite a few stretches of decent offense by the Spurs, New Orleans still led by 11 at the final official timeout and cruised to a victory.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Nicolo Melli was a preseason lifesaver in the first half, providing New Orleans with some badly-needed perimeter shooting. While his teammates struggled mightily to find their touch, the native of Italy went 3/6 from the arc. He finished with 14 points and nine rebounds in only 18 minutes of action.
“It’s just a matter of knowing the team better, understanding how the team can create shots for me,” Melli said on postgame radio. “I was the lucky guy tonight, to hit a couple threes.”
Melli noted that team chemistry continues to build for a New Orleans roster that is trying to incorporate double-digit new members.
“It’s growing,” he said. “I believe we played better today than the previous game. That’s why we want to do, step by step, every day improve.”
BY THE NUMBERS
6/22: New Orleans three-point shooting in the first half.
6/14: New Orleans three-point shooting in the second half. Consecutive treys by E’Twaun Moore in the fourth quarter helped the Pelicans take command.
61.9: Pelicans shooting percentage from the field in the second half. Williamson entered Sunday’s game shooting 71 percent in preseason and managed to bump that up slightly by going 8/11 against the Spurs.