Pelicans soldier on without Zion, face enigmatic Spurs

National Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans will look to carry some swagger with them on the road when they face the up-and-down San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

It might be difficult after the latest news concerning star forward Zion Williamson.

The Pelicans head to the Alamo City after a 109-93 win at home over Detroit on Friday. Brandon Ingram scored 26 points, 24 of them in the first half, to lead New Orleans in the win. Jonas Valanciunas hit for 17 points, Josh Hart added 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Herbert Jones tallied 10 for the Pelicans.

New Orleans limited the Pistons to 38.9 percent shooting from the floor.

“We just picked up our intensity,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “The first quarter, I thought they played harder. They played faster. They got into the paint, kicked out for 3s. They made shots. You could see middle of the second quarter, we started to pick it up. We did a good job of getting into their guys and getting into a shift and multiple efforts.”

The Pelicans trailed by one point at halftime, and the deficit could’ve been much worse without Ingram’s hot hand. He poured in 13 first-quarter points. It was the fourth time in the past six games Ingram has eclipsed the 25-point mark.

“I feel like I know where I’m going on the basketball floor,” Ingram said. “It comes a little easier when I make quick decisions and am intentional about the things that I’m doing. My teammates are making things easier for me, passing me the ball in the right spots.”

On Saturday, the Pelicans announced that Williamson, who has been out all season, had experienced a setback on his surgically repaired right foot and will be sidelined indefinitely. The team statement said that an MRI showed a “regression in the bone healing” of Williamson’s fifth metatarsal.

Sunday’s game is the second of a home back-to-back for the Spurs, who lost to Denver 127-112 on Saturday.

None of the San Antonio starters played more than 23 minutes in the defeat, which was all but settled after the Nuggets fashioned a 24-1 run that bridged the end of the second and beginning of the third quarters and built a 32-point lead.

Lonnie Walker IV led the Spurs with 16 points, with Devin Vassell scoring 15, Bryn Forbes and Keldon Johnson hitting for 14 apiece, Tre Jones adding 12 points, and Derrick White and Keita Bates-Diop tallying 10 each.

“(The Nuggets) came out and were determined,” Johnson said. “We came out kind of lackadaisical and laid back, and things happen.”

The Spurs have lost three of their past four games, with their win over Denver on Thursday the lone bright spot. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was succinct in his comments after the loss on Saturday.

“Denver set a good example of how you react after a loss – and we did the opposite,” Popovich said. “We showed how you do not want to react after a win. So, they handled the loss well. We didn’t handle the win very well at all.”

The Spurs’ bench scored 76 points on Saturday, the fourth most in a game in franchise history.

Sunday’s game is the first this season between the Spurs and the Pelicans. San Antonio owns a 50-19 all-time edge against New Orleans, including a 28-5 advantage in games played in the Alamo City.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories