LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs power past New Orleans Pelicans

By Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 4, 2016 at 1:19 AM
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SAN ANTONIO -- In his first season as a member of the San Antonio Spurs, forward LaMarcus Aldridge has done the majority of his damage from the elbow near the free-throw line or on the baseline moving away from the basket.

However, on Wednesday against the always-stout defensive presence of New Orleans forward Anthony Davis, Aldridge got aggressive and worked in the paint. His efforts down low paid huge dividends, as he scored a season-high 36 points to help San Antonio beat the Pelicans 110-97 and remain unbeaten at home.

Aldridge's output led a parade of four San Antonio starters in double-figure scoring, and he keyed the decisive run late in the fourth quarter. He scored 10 points in that stretch, including eight from the free-throw line, as San Antonio expanded a four-point lead into an 11-point advantage.

"(Davis) is very athletic and very skilled on both ends of the floor, so I was just trying to make reads and picking my spots to take my shots," Aldridge said. "I ended up finding a rhythm and just rolling with it."

San Antonio kept pushing the ball into the post to its big offseason free agent signee, and New Orleans fouled him on most every possession. Aldridge then went to the charity stripe and made the Pelicans pay; he ended up going 12-for-12 on his free throws.

"LaMarcus is feeling more and more comfortable as the season progresses," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He was magnificent on both ends. (Davis) only got three points in the fourth quarter because of the great job LaMarcus did on him -- I though he was special."

San Antonio (41-8) improved to 27-0 at the AT&T Center this season, setting a record for the best home start ever by a Western Conference team. (The Golden State Warriors are also unbeaten at home this season but have played just 22 home games.)

The Spurs also extended their regular-season home victory streak to 36 games, dating back to an overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers last March, and they matched the best ever start in franchise history after 49 games (set in 2010-11).

It was the second consecutive game in which Aldridge racked up a season high in points. He had 28 in the Spurs' 107-92 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday.

"The ball has been going in," Aldridge said about his performance the past two games. "I'm taking shots and making them. I'm playing with more confidence and more like myself, and I think that the team has fed off that energy."

Forward Kawhi Leonard added 26 points for San Antonio, while guard Danny Green hit for 16 and forward David West scored 14 points. The Spurs got just 16 points from their vaunted bench, with 14 of those coming from guard Patty Mills (eight) and guard Manu Ginobili (six).

The Pelicans (18-30) got 28 points from Davis. Reserve guard Jrue Holiday added 20 points (16 of them in the first half), while guard Norris Cole scored 14 points and reserve forward Ryan Anderson contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.

New Orleans outrebounded San Antonio 45-36 (including an 11-4 margin on the offensive glass) but also committed 19 turnovers that led to 24 points for the Spurs.

"Anytime you turn the ball over against (the Spurs), you can get yourself into trouble, and that's exactly what happened to us," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "You can't afford to do that; you have to be solid with the ball. You have to read their double teams -- and you have to score points."

New Orleans defeated the Spurs in four of the teams' previous five games, including a 104-90 home win on Nov. 20, so the Pelicans had San Antonio's attention from the start.

The Spurs led by three after the first quarter and by eight at halftime.

Popovich was whistled for a technical foul while arguing a call midway through the third quarter as the Pelicans forged an 11-2 run that cut the San Antonio lead to 64-60.

New Orleans regained its advantage on two free throws by Davis with 3:39 to play in the quarter. The two teams traded the lead four times until the Spurs took charge in the final minute and carried an 83-79 advantage to the fourth period.

"We had a chance to win the game, but we just lost track of a couple of their guys and they made some big shots," Davis said. "We had some careless turnovers, and you can't do that on the road, especially against a team like the Spurs in their building. When we turn the ball over like we did, we didn't have the chance to set up our defense."

Ginobili took a hit to his face late in the game and was on the floor for several minutes before leaving under his own power with a towel covering his face. He was still being evaluated after the game, and his status for the Spurs' game Friday in Dallas is to be determined.

NOTES: Spurs F David West was selected by New Orleans in the first round (18th overall) in the 2003 NBA Draft. He spent eight years in New Orleans, averaging 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in 530 games. ... San Antonio F Kawhi Leonard is just the third player in NBA history (Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon) to be named an All-Star, NBA Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. ... With G Eric Gordon sidelined with a broken right ring finger, Pelicans G Norris Cole was inserted into the starting lineup and is averaging 14.2 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 52.9 percent from 3-point range. ... The Pelicans are posting an offensive rating of 114.6 in games they win, the highest in the NBA during victories. ... New Orleans has not been shy about taking 3-point shots this season. The Pelicans have connected on 10 or more 3-pointers in 20 games, including their last five before Wednesday, when they were just 3-for-19 from long range.

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