Summer League: Spurs hold on to defeat Pelicans

With 19.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter Monday, the San Antonio Spurs’ Summer League team found themselves down 86-85 to the New Orleans Pelicans. Coming out of a timeout, the Spurs ran a pick-and-roll play with Darius Morris and Jeff Ayres. For a few seconds it looked as if the play was going to fall apart, but Morris found Ayres deep in the paint, as Ayres made a late layup, for the and-one attempt. Ayres would sink both free throws to give the Spurs an 88-86 lead, and the Spurs’ defense would help the team earn the victory on the other end.

Morris started the game at shooting guard, and led the charge early for San Antonio. He would finish as the team’s leading scorer with 19 points, as he displayed his aggressiveness in constantly attacking the paint out of the pick-and-roll. Ayres had a productive game with 11 points and five rebounds, but his defense was a lot better than his previous two games, as he only totaled three fouls. Austin Daye, who had struggled to find a rhythm in Vegas, finally got going by making 5-of-12 shots from the floor, as he collected 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in 28 minutes of play.

JaMychal Green scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds off the bench for San Antonio, while both Marcus Denmon and Deshaun Thomas had tough outings, as they combined to shoot 2-of-14 from the field, for five combined points. Dequan Jones led the Pelicans with 20 points, while Courtney Fells also scored 19 points for New Orleans.

As I’ve been doing throughout the Summer League, I once again took some notes on the performances of Kyle Anderson and Bryce Cotton for the Spurs in detail, below were some of observations.

Kyle Anderson

Overall: Anderson was a little bit more aggressive trying to score the ball, as he finished with nine points (4-of-8 shooting), three assists, three rebounds, three fouls, and two turnovers in 28 minutes.

Offensive end: Anderson’s floater was on display, as he scored twice with it – once in the half court and the second time in transition. One consistent element that’s been observed in Anderson’s game offensively is his use of the pump fake. Since he has trouble beating his defenders off the dribble due to his lack of quickness, Anderson uses his basketball IQ with the pump fake to get his defender in the air, and either penetrate or pass. His outside jump shot looked a little slow on the release, but that is probably something Spurs shooting coach Chip Engelland will work on with him in the future. In the passing department, Anderson once more put his passing on display, as he threw a couple of zip passes to Daye who was wide open from the outside, and on one play, he penetrated and used a no-look pass to find one of his teammates under the rim. Anderson played the small forward position for the majority of his minutes.

Defensive end: As has been the case over the last three games, Anderson has continued to get beat off the dribble when he’s matched up with his defender 1-on-1 and his defender drives into the paint. With Anderson getting beat off the dribble, it forces his teammates to double-team, which then spreads apart their defense.

Bryce Cotton

Overall: In 18 minutes, Cotton finished with five points (1-of-6 shooting), one assist, one steal, one turnover, and five fouls. Though he once more struggled to find a rhythm, it was his performance on the defensive end where he struggled the most in the game.

Offensive end: Cotton’s lone make was a give-and-go play between he and Ayres, where Cotton gave Ayres the ball in the paint, and Ayres fed him the ball on the pass back for a layup. Cotton was patient with his other five shots he took, but they just didn’t go in. He would usually give the ball up to Daye, Morris, or Anderson, rather than run more pick-and-rolls to create for others.

Defensive end: For the first half, Cotton’s defense was stable, and he didn’t have too many problems. However in the third quarter, Russ Smith of the Pelicans began to have his way with Cotton, as he scored three and-one attempts all in the quarter, while Cotton was the one guarding him. Cotton ended the game with five personal fouls, and down the stretch when the game was close, he found himself watching from the bench. Smith finished with 14 points, but it was clear he was able to beat Cotton off the dribble in the half court.

The Spurs finished the first three games on their schedule with a 2-1 record. On July 16, the teams will be seeded in a tournament bracket and play from there.

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.