The San Antonio Spurs saw their 2021-22 season come to an end on Wednesday night in New Orleans, falling 113-103 to the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center in the play-in game.
CJ McCollum scored early and often for New Orleans, being a thorn in the side of the San Antonio Spurs all night long. McCollum finished with 27 of his 32 points in the first half to carry the Pelicans.
Brandon Ingram added 27 points and center Jonas Valanciunas added 22 points and 14 rebounds.
”The three best players for New Orleans all played great, and if that happens, you’re going to lose,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ”We stayed in it and got back in it, but then we made the same mistakes as we did in the first three quarters – nonphysical defense.”
The young San Antonio squad showed its inexperience as Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson shot a combined 11-for-39 to score 31 points.
Devin Vassell led the Spurs with 23 points and seven three-pointers. Josh Richardson came off the bench to score 12 points.
”You have to take the good and bad and learn from it,” Murray said. ”We had guys not shoot well, starting with myself. They were physical. I ain’t making no excuses.”
The Spurs will now enter the offseason with question marks surrounding their future. Was Wednesday the final game for Lonnie Walker IV as a Spur?
Will Gregg Popovich hang it up or will he return for another season on the bench?
”It’s the playoffs, and you’ve got to be into people,” Popovich said. ”The grunt is important. Ingram scored two in a row right in the middle of the lane with no one even touching him. It’s a great lesson for our guys.”
For all updates during the Spurs offseason, head over to ProjectSpurs.com throughout the summer.