The Spurs’ offensive struggles continue to lose to the Pelicans


A poor start saw the Spurs lose for the sixth time in a row. The offensive struggles continued at home after the road trip and San Antonio ran into the Pelicans who sprinted to take control of the game and rode some strong performances from their stars to a comfortable 129-110 win.


Anyone hoping a return to San Antonio would solve the Spurs’ recent scoring woes was quickly dismissed from the idea, as the Silver and Lions struggled to get good shots early on. The kind of ball and player movement that made Spurs look good earlier in the season is still there, but opponents have gotten much better at cutting passing corners, meaning most of the possession is spent trying to find an advantage that never comes. It took San Antonio nearly five minutes to kick a field goal, and honestly it felt longer than that. The Pelicans, on the other hand, were getting the better of a defense that tried but was poorly positioned on the inside and was getting a little lost in the keys. Things got a little better on the offensive end when the second unit, led by Doug McDermott’s 11 points in the first quarter, got in enough to stay within range despite a terrible early performance, heading into the second quarter down by just 10.

There were a few good moments before the Spurs break, as Devin Vassell looked alive and the defense did just enough to generate some turnovers from an opposition who were probably feeling overconfident, but the Swans never seemed to lose control of the team. Game. An 8-0 start to the period gave the visitors the buffer they needed to simply take some possessions without having to pay for them, and they had the weapons to put points on the board whenever they wanted, thanks to fine play from Jonas Valanciunas, Zion Williamson and Devonte Graham. New Orleans’ lead has swung between the 15- and 20-point mark for the majority of the frame, where they could always stop or get three points when needed while every good game takes a lot of effort from the Spurs. The Swans finished the half 19th, and it felt fair.

The tricky thing about trying to come back after falling so far behind is that the opposition has to allow it. San Antonio had some small kicks, but those on their own didn’t quite make enough of a deficit drop in the third quarter because New Orleans eventually responded, and when the dust settled, the home team was always down by double digits. Spurs played better than the Pelicans for extended periods, with role players such as Keita Bates Diop and McDermott putting together solid stretches, but they simply could not compete with an opponent with as many goalscorers. Whenever they needed a bucket, the visitors could simply go to Williamson or Brandon Ingram, who came back to life after a quiet first half. The effort was there, but the difference in talent and experience was just too great to overcome for the Silver and Black champions, who trailed by 19 in the final stretch.

Teams that fall behind often seem to have run out of time to make their move, but on Wednesday it looked like the game could have gone two hours more and Tottenham would have struggled to reach single digits. It was just one of those nights when even the kind of shots guys usually make didn’t go down, and no matter how much everyone piled on the other end, the stops didn’t come in constantly enough. Spurs are still in shambles and have now lost six straight matches.

Game notes

  • Valancionas always gets Jacob Poeltel in trouble with his group. Jack is a great and adaptable defender, but guarding big players is one of his few weaknesses. What makes Jonas tougher is that he also has the size to score on the inside and fight on the boards with any true center. It’s just one of those matches that negates the influence of one of Tottenham’s most important players.
  • The Spurs broadcast isn’t the most popular with the NBA crowd and even some Spurs fans aren’t the biggest fans of Michelle Biddle on the crew, but they’ve done a good job all season of being serious enough while also trying to be entertaining even while blowing up. Watching matches as a Rebuilding fan can be tough, but it’s even worse when the announcers look miserable.
  • Jeremy Suchan’s physical evolution over the next few years will be fascinating to watch. Games like this reveal he doesn’t have the strength to deal with big attackers, but there aren’t many of those around him anymore. Should he stay as agile as possible to be a formidable defender of the perimeter even if it means fighting on boards and against men stronger than himself? This seems like the best option, but he will need to at least gain some muscle.
  • Keldon Johnson continued to struggle, as he played fewer than 17 minutes and scored only five points on nine shots. He’s been shooting 30 percent in the last five games and frankly he looks a little frustrated. There will be some failures in the process of reaching the next level, so I hope he can keep shooting and find his own rhythm.

Play the game

One of the issues in this game? The Spurs couldn’t really run, which limited Trey Jones’ influence. When San Antonio gets his break, Jones usually makes good decisions and has the wit to get another good look.

Next match: Vs. Lakers on Friday

LeBron James could return to take on the Spurs, which could make the losing streak even more difficult to snap.

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