SAN ANTONIO —
San Antonio didn't get off to the best start, but took an early 8-4 lead on a bucket by Dejounte Murray and a few threes by Devin Vassell off of assists by Keldon Johnson.
Murray picked up a pair of fouls, but stayed in the game. Jakob Poeltl hit a few pop-a-shots in close, but also picked up his second foul early. Ingram drove in after an offensive board and slammed home a poster dunk on Zach Collins to roars from the crowd. He knifed through the defense and laid it up to put the Pelicans up 13-12, getting a timeout out of Pop.
San Antonio's offense stalled a bit as the Pels made it an 8-0 run and a four-point advantage. Lonnie Walker IV put it on the floor and swished a jumper to halve that. Ingram answered over Collins, but Collins posted up for a score on the other end.
Murray came back in the game and drove for free throws. A few Pelicans hit tough layups through Collins, but he forced a stop down low, got the ball from Keita Bates-Diop off an offensive board and tied the game on a circus shot inside.
Josh Richardson hit a jumper to tie as well. Herb Jones beat the buzzer with a reverse in transition, and New Orleans led 26-22 after the first.
Lonnie opened the period with a three, then CJ McCollum danced on him and scored.
McCollum danced around a screen and Murray picked up his third foul on a three-point attempt and begrudgingly went to the bench.
Walker put it on the floor, dribbled all the way to the hoop and popped it in. Jose Alvarado hit a tough, fading three to make it a 9-point game, then Lonnie pulled up for two and answered.
McCollum scored over tough defense again, up to 17 points. Ingram hit a mid-range fader to extend the lead to 10 before Vassell hit his third three. He grabbed a board and dished to Tre Jones in the corner, and he hesitated before drilling a three. New Orleans answered, then Vassell hit his fourth.
Vassell ran pick and roll and found Poeltl inside, and Ingram picked up his third foul. Keldon drew free throws for his first points of the game, and the Spurs cut it to two. NOLA answered, then Vassell hit Richardson on the wing for three. McCollum again hit a deep one over tough defense.
Jose Alvarado hit a three, then got to the stripe, then McCollum got to the cup and hit a three to put the Pels up 11 on a 9-0 run.
New Orleans played great defense for 24 seconds but Richardson beat the buzzer. McCollum drove to the rack again and finished a tough one to give him 27 first-half points.
The Pelicans led 61-50 after the first half.
San Antonio started with three good shots and tough misses before Murray drove for an and-1. New Orleans built the lead up to 15 before Poeltl scored in the post.
Herb Jones continued to be an absolute menace defensively, getting a block and a steal on the same possession before McCollum drained another jumper to make it 17.
Murray found Poeltl on a seal for an and-1 as Ingram picked up his fourth personal foul. DJ took it at Jones for a tough layup, then left him open for a three on the other end as again the Pels pushed it to 17.
Vassell hit free throws, but Valanciunas dunked it, Devin missed his next shot, and Valanciunas hit to make it 19.
Murray scored, then set up a dunk by Richardson but the rim blocked him. Valanciunas made it eight points for him in a row, making it a 21-point game.
Keldon drove and hit a floater through contact for his first bucket of the game, with four minutes left in the third, missing the free throw. Keldon drove, spun, and hit another floater.
Johnson drove, missed, got it back, and scored off the glass through tough defense. NOLA pushed it to 18, Walker hit a corner three, but McCollum answered from the top.
San Antonio trailed 92-75 at the end of the third.
Nothing seemed to go right for San Antonio as the Pelicans opened on a 4-0 run. Keldon scored, then Poeltl inside, then Keldon driving through contact.
Johnson posted up a smaller defender and hit a hook over him to cut it to 13. Murray drew a foul on Jones, his third, and he hit the free throws to cut it to 12. Richardson hit a three, and the Spurs cut it to nine.
Richardson made a mistake in transition, but the ball stayed with the Spurs. San Antonio got a few shots they like but couldn't convert. Johnson played tough defense on McCollum, then Poeltl blocked Valanciunas.
Richardson took an offensive foul, and Pop drew up another three for Vassell to make it a six-point deficit. Ingram hit a mid-range jumper for the first Pelicans basket in over 5 minutes. Valanciunas scored, then Ingram hit another short jumper to make it 103-91 with 3:28 to play.
Vassell hit his sixth three, the Spurs got a stop, and Keldon got free throws but missed the first, making it eight. Ingram slashed through the zone and finished through physical defense by Poeltl. Herb Jones cut for a dunk to make it a dozen before Vassell hit his seventh triple.
Valanciunas dunked it, and that about did it. San Antonio's season ended with a 113-103.
The San Antonio Spurs (34-48) will visit the New Orleans Pelicans (36-46) for their NBA Play-In Game.
The Spurs finished 3-1 against the Pelicans this past regular season with the Spurs winning twice in New Orleans.
Gregg Popovich downplayed the stakes before the contest, but noted that this game will be at a different level than the past 82.
"Winning any NBA game is difficult and fun," he said before tipoff, calling it an elevated stage for the team to continue developing, and saying that he was "excited as hell" to watch them perform.
“This is what you sign up for to see what you’re made of. You go out you don’t worry about mistakes or anything besides winning the basketball game. Whatever it takes, give it your all or go home," Dejounte Murray said. "I love these types of games. We don’t want to go home. So like I said, we must go out and approach it like we don’t want to go home and get a win."
Here are five things to watch for in tonight's single-elimination game:
1. Spurs' Dejounte Murray averaged 21.2 points per game including 9.3 assists and 2.0 steals versus the Pelicans this season.
2. In four games, the Spurs averaged 113.1 points per game, and shot 35.2% from the three-point line.
3. Post All-Star break, the Spurs averaged 33.6 three-point attempts and 25.1 free-throw attempts.
4. Pelicans' Brandon Ingram is the only player in NBA to average 22-plus points per game, 5.4-plus assists per game, 5.5-plus rebounds per game, and three or less turnovers per game.
5. The Pelicans are 14-24 all-time at home against the Spurs and will not have Zion Williamson for this game against San Antonio.
Stay here at KENS 5 throughout the season for complete Spurs coverage.