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Pelicans look to finish road trip on high note against Spurs

by Staff

The New Orleans Pelicans look to build momentum off a key win when they travel to San Antonio to battle the slumping Spurs on Friday.

The Pelicans wrap up a four-game road trip that began with losses in Milwaukee and Boston and turned around with a rousing 110-99 win in Houston on Wednesday. Jonas Valanciunas collected team highs with 25 points and 14 rebounds, producing his 25th double-double of the season, and Brandon Ingram added 24 points and 10 rebounds to help New Orleans snap a three-game losing streak.

CJ McCollum contributed 19 points for the Pelicans, who played without Zion Williamson (foot) and Herb Jones (adductor). New Orleans led by 12 points before Houston rallied to within 82-79 late in the third quarter.

The Pelicans grabbed the game by the throat early in the final period via a 15-0 run in which Houston missed nine straight shots.

“We just continued offensively with our force and our pace,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “We didn’t allow their physicality to disrupt us offensively. Solid effort on both ends of the court.”

Valanciunas continues to influence games, especially when the Pelicans get him on track early in the game.

“He was huge,” McCollum said of the team’s center. “We tried to get him going early. As the game progressed, he rebounded the ball well. Finished around the basket. Did what he does. Got him some touches, and he established a rhythm.”

The Spurs have dropped two straight games at home, including a 108-98 setback to Orlando on Wednesday. Devin Vassell led all scorers in Wednesday’s loss with 26 points while rookie Victor Wembanyama added 21 and Jeremy Sochan racked up 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs.

San Antonio trailed by 25 points late in the third quarter before mounting a comeback that brought them to within 99-96 with 3:27 to play. But from there the Spurs ran out of gas.

“Despite us not shooting the ball that well, we were down with six, eight (points) at halftime,” Vassell said. “Then that third quarter, we weren’t ready to start and we were turning it over and just weren’t executing the game plan. That’s why everything changed.”

San Antonio played without key bench players Keldon Johnson (elbow laceration) and Zach Collins (sprained ankle). The Spurs have won twice through the first five outings of a seven-game homestand that precedes their annual three-week Rodeo Road Trip.

“We’re at a point in the season where we learned a little bit on ourselves but some of the 40-plus games maybe are catching up on us and we need to stay focused on every one of them,” Wembanyama said. “We can’t just not pay attention to this because this has been one of if not our biggest problems all year.”

Wembanyama, the Spurs‘ phenom from France, has been everything he was touted to be, and more.

According to the Spurs‘ media relations department, Wembanyama finished the month of January with five games of 20-plus points and five-plus blocks and has eight such games for the season That’s more games with 20/5 in one month than the second-most player in the NBA (the Lakers’ Anthony Davis, four) has for the entire season.

—Field Level Media

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