San Antonio Spurs earn third straight win despite Zion Williamson’s debut in NOLA

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 22: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs on January 22, 2020 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 22: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs on January 22, 2020 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs held off phenom Zion Williamson’s fourth-quarter onslaught for a 121-117 victory against New Orleans.

Coming into tonight’s matchup, none of the national attention was actually on the San Antonio Spurs, who entered the game with a better record and, quite frankly, a better team than the Pelicans. Outside of Spurs fans, the country had one thing on the mind: 2019 No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, who made his NBA debut against the foundational team of the Southwest Division.

And as they have throughout the year, the Spurs persevered for their third consecutive win with five players in double-figures and a strong shooting line as a team (50.6/40.7/80.0). Despite shooting seven less free throws than New Orleans, San Antonio managed to outscore the Pelicans in 3-of-4 quarters.

Spurs star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge has been relatively quiet as of late, but that wasn’t the case tonight. The 34-year-old took on a large workload in a high-octane enemy territory and thrived, scoring 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting.

With the cards stacked against him and his team tonight, Aldridge snagged 14 boards including six on the offensive glass along with two blocked shots.

San Antonio took firm control of the first half, establishing a 10-point lead by out-shooting the Pelicans by 21.7% from beyond the arch. For the most part, they took care of the ball and ran in transition to make New Orleans uncomfortable and create easy transition looks.

After being levied by DeMar DeRozan (20 points, five boards on 8-of-16 shooting) for the majority of recent games, Aldridge decided it was his turn to take over and kept the team afloat late in the fourth quarter despite New Orleans’ ridiculous fourth-quarter push.

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That push was led by the No. 1 pick, who finished with 22 points and seven boards in only 18 minutes of playing time. He scored 17 in the fourth quarter including four made triples on all four of his attempts from beyond the arc. Needless to say, this guy is going to be an absolute menace and the Spurs won’t have a fun time facing him for years to come.

The box score isn’t going to tell the full story of the Spurs’ dynamic young guards, but Derrick White and Dejounte Murray were superb in the win. White played incredible all-around defense tonight en-route to a 12-point, seven-assist outing. Murray, on the other hand, stuck like glue onto both Lonzo Ball and Jrue Holiday on his way to a 13-point, five rebound night.

Both White and Murray generated a ton of offense for their teams, making good reads for passes and helping to initiate some of that coveted Spurs ball movement.

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Though they didn’t do a great job of limiting points as a whole, largely due to the Pelicans’ rapid pace, seven different Spurs logged a steal and seven players had at least three defensive rebounds. Even if it’s not perfect, the Spurs are working hard and it’s showing with six wins in their last nine games.

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