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Pelicans get 40 from CJ McCollum in beating Spurs

Dec 22, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tre Jones (33) drives to the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward Herbert Jones (5) during the first half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

CJ McCollum scored a season-high 40 points to lead five New Orleans scorers in double figures as the short-handed Pelicans defeated the visiting San Antonio Spurs 126-117 on Thursday night.

Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Trey Murphy III scored 15 points, Willy Hernangomez 13, and Herbert Jones Jr. 12 for the Pelicans, who ended a season-worst four-game losing streak.

New Orleans played without leading scorer Zion Williamson (health and safety protocols), second-leading scorer Brandon Ingram, who missed his 12th consecutive game because of a toe contusion, and reserve center Larry Nance Jr. (Achilles soreness).

Jeremy Sochan scored 23 points, Tre Jones added 19, Josh Richardson 14, Jakob Poeltl 13, Stanley Johnson 12, and Devin Vassell 10 to lead the Spurs, who played without leading scorer Keldon Johnson (bruised back).

New Orleans improved to 3-0 against San Antonio this season. The final meeting will take place March 21 in New Orleans.

The Spurs pulled within 72-58 on a layup by Poeltl early in the third quarter. He scored San Antonio’s next five points as well, and the Spurs trailed 76-63 with 7:13 left in the period.

Eight Pelicans combined to score the team’s final 22 points, and they took a 94-75 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Johnson scored five points as San Antonio tallied the first 10 of the fourth quarter.

McCollum answered by scoring New Orleans’ first 12 points and finished with 19 in the period as the Pelicans held on.

Tre Jones’ basket started the scoring and gave San Antonio its only lead of the game.

McCollum made three 3-pointers and Naji Marshall made one as the Pelicans scored the next 12 points.

The Spurs climbed within five points, but minutes later, a 3-pointer by Murphy and a three-point play by Hernangomez helped New Orleans build an 11-point lead.

Valanciunas had four points during a closing 10-3 run that left the Pelicans with a 37-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Sochan made a layup that got San Antonio within 13 past the midpoint of the second period, but Herbert Jones scored New Orleans’ final seven points of the period as the Pelicans held a 65-46 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media