Spurs look to stay hot against Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans and the San Antonio Spurs met just one week ago.
The visiting Spurs rolled to a 126-114 victory that started a four-game winning streak. For the Pelicans, that was one of four losses in their last five games.
Both teams seem headed in very different directions as they prepare to meet again on Saturday in San Antonio.
The Spurs have overcome a slow start to settle into the middle of the playoff pack in the Western Conference while the Pelicans have plummeted near the bottom of the conference.
Additionally, New Orleans has played its last two games without five of its top six scorers, including All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who informed the Pelicans less than a week ago that he will not sign another contract with the team and would like to be traded before he becomes a free agent after next season.
New Orleans is 1-1 since Davis ' trade request became public. He is still sidelined by a sprained index finger and has been joined on the sideline by three other starters -- forwards Julius Randle (ankle) and E'Twaun Moore (knee), as well as guard Elfrid Payton (ankle) -- along with top reserve Nikola Mirotic (calf).
Davis spoke publicly Friday for the first time since making the trade demand and said he plans to play as soon as he's healthy. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said none of the injured players would be available against the Spurs and wouldn't say if Davis would play once he's healthy.
The makeshift lineup won at Houston 121-116 on Tuesday and lost to Denver 105-99 at home on Wednesday.
"I feel like with Anthony here he's still very encouraging," said guard Jrue Holiday, the only one of the top six New Orleans scorers that has been healthy. "He's definitely a team player in our profession. But as a team, I think we're trying to feed off each other, help each other out. I think across the board everybody's adding to the game in the way that they can."
Rookie Kenrich Williams had 16 rebounds against the Rockets, then made five 3-pointers and scored 21 points against the Nuggets.
"The one thing that you find out of this is that guys have an opportunity and some guys really take advantage of the opportunity," Gentry said. "You give those guys an opportunity and you're happy when they take advantage of it."
The Spurs, meanwhile, improved to 3-0 on a homestand that concludes against the Pelicans when Derrick White scored a career-high 26 points and All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 in a 117-114 victory against Brooklyn on Thursday night.
"(White) is working hard," Aldridge told www.MySanAntonio.com. "He helps this team get better. He's making the right reads, he's growing offensively (and) he's getting to the basket. I think he's that difference maker right now."
As usual, Aldridge has been a difference maker all season, which earned him his seventh All-Star Game selection. He's averaging 21.1 points and team-highs of 8.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.
He's one of two players in the NBA averaging at least 21 points and eight rebounds while making more than 50 percent of his field goals and 80 percent of his free throws. The other is Davis.
"He's had a great season and really kept us together when we were still learning," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "During the tough times when we were really discombobulated, he's been a beast all season. It's a good reward for him to make the All-Star team. He deserves it."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 1, 2019