The San Antonio Spurs (2-1) suffered their first loss of the 2020-21 season, falling 98-95 to the New Orleans Pelicans (2-1) at the Smoothie King Center on Sunday night in their first back-to-back set of the young season.
DeMar DeRozan struggled to find his shot, scoring a season-low eight points on 3-for-12 shooting but he made up for that by dishing out 10 assists in the loss.
San Antonio struggled to contain Brandon Ingram, who scored 28 points to led New Orleans to go along with 11 rebounds. Zion Williamson added a double-double of his own, scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 boards.
“I was really pleased with the guys, I thought our effort was great,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said. “We missed six threes in a row that were all wide open down the stretch.”
Three Standout Players
The Spurs may have struggled offensively but Rudy Gay brought his veteran leadership to do his best to keep the Silver and Black in the game, helping them mount their comeback.
Gay led San Antonio with 22 points off the bench. He went 2-for-8 from beyond the arc but remained aggressive as he scored from inside and the paint and his signature mid-range jumper. Despite his solid night, the final play was not executed properly, resulting in the Spurs’ first loss of the season.
“Last play obviously they sniffed it out,” he said. “It’s a learning experience for all of us.”
Lonnie Walker IV
With the Spurs struggling offensively, the Spurs had one of their rising stars do his best to keep them in the game.
Lonnie Walker IV hit some big shots in the second half as New Orleans built their lead. Walker finished with 16 points, hitting 4-of-7 from three-point range, and slashed his way to the rim for buckets, taking on the Pelicans’ big men. After the game, that final play was on Walker’s mind as well.
“Execute, we expect to execute it the right way and we didn’t,” he said.
The second-year forward had a big weekend for the Spurs. Saturday night saw him guarding Pascal Siakam in the Spurs’ win over the Raptors and Sunday night he was tasked with guarding Zion Williamson.
He did that while posting a double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling down 11 boards. He shot 50 percent from the floor and went 2-for-5 from beyond the arc. But it was his defense that impressed his head coach.
“Those are two talented players,” Popovich said of Johnson’s defense. “I think Keldon was fantastic in both situations. He’s gonna turn into a fine two-way player.”