Spurs dominate Pelicans in home opener without Tony or Manu

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said the San Antonio Spurs will quickly expose any team's weakness.

The Pelicans learned not only do they have a lot to work on, they also need some rest.

Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and the Spurs beat the Pelicans 98-79 on Saturday night in their home opener.

''We didn't have the same energy that we're usually playing with,'' Pelicans forward Anthony Davis said. ''We wasn't making shots. There was some miscommunication. Against a team like this, you can't have plays where we have a mental breakdown, that's what they want and they always capitalize. We had seven turnovers in the first half and they scored on every turnover.''

The Spurs won their first home opener in 20 years without Tim Duncan, who retired in the offseason. San Antonio played without any of its Big Three as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili both sat out to rest in the first night of back-to-back games.

San Antonio didn't appear to miss them, as 11 players were part of a balanced-scoring effort that helped the team remain unbeaten after three games.

Patty Mills scored 18 points starting in place of Parker. Mills was 4 for 7 on 3-pointers, including one at the close of the first half to give San Antonio a 55-45 lead.

''I thought the play at the end of the first half was a big play,'' Gentry said. ''Instead of a seven-point game, it's a 10-point game. Patty makes a 3-pointer. We never really got him picked up. You can't make those kind of mistakes.''

LaMarcus Aldridge added 12 points along with solid defense against the league's leading scorer.

Davis was held to 18 points after scoring 50 and 45 points in the season's first two games. He was limited to 3:13 in the final quarter as San Antonio led by as many as 27 points in the fourth.

''I got some shots I wanted,'' Davis said. ''I got some jumpers that I wanted, just missed them. I'm not worried about offense, really. Shots are going to come. I just want to get everybody else going and try to find a way to find a win.''

Davis took only nine shots in the first half.

Aldridge picked up three fouls in the first half as Davis' primary defender, but still managed to hold the 6-foot-10 forward to 6-for-15 shooting in the game.

''(Aldridge) did a good job,'' San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. ''Anthony's obviously a great player. We just wanted to work on individual `D.' So, we didn't give him any help, we just let him guard him. In the future that may not be what we do.''

E'Twaun Moore also had 18 points for New Orleans (0-3).

Leonard added four rebounds and three assists and was 2 for 4 on 3-pointers.

The 6-7 forward worked on drawing more fouls in the offseason and it continued to pay off, earning Leonard early MVP chants from the sellout crowd. He was 6 for 6 on free throws, raising his season total to 28 for 28.

''The only time I hear it is when I come to the games,'' Leonard said of the chants. ''I would never try to win an award. I'm out there just playing for my team. If I get noticed for my individual performance, then that's what happens. But other than that, I'm trying to win a game.''

TIP-INS

Pelicans: Davis played 32 minutes, raising his season total to 113. Before the game, Gentry said he was not concerned about the early workload, noting Davis is 23 years old and capable of handling big minutes. . New Orleans bench finished with 33 points, one less than San Antonio's. None of the Pelicans reserves finished in double figures but five had at least four points led by nine from Dante Cunningham. New Orleans' bench is averaging 31.7 points per game.

Spurs: San Antonio has seven new players on its 15-man roster this season, including rookies Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, Nico Laprovittola and Davis Bertans. ... Popovich chastised Jonathan Simmons for offensive goaltending when he dunked Laprovittola's layup as it was still on the cylinder. The veteran coach pointed to his head to signal the second-year player should be wiser. Simmons responded in the final quarter with a thunderous dunk over 7-2 center Alexis Ajinca. Simmons finished with 11 points. . Bertans missed his first shot of the season after making his first three attempts, including two 3-pointers.

SIT DOWN

Popovich opted to rest Parker and Ginobili even though it is the Spurs' third game of the season. Popovich is not a fan of the congested early schedule.

''Everybody goes through this,'' Popovich said. ''This is our third game in five nights. Tomorrow is going to be four games in six nights. It's ridiculous. (New Orleans) played at 8:30 last night and they have to play a back-to-back tonight. Seems like you could figure that out.''

The Pelicans were coming off a 122-114 loss at home to Golden State Warriors.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: Host Milwaukee on Tuesday.

Spurs: At Miami on Sunday.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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