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Spurs tighten up play-in chase with victory over Pelicans

Sportsnaut
Mar 26, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) controls the ball against San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl (25) during the first half at the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Dejounte Murray recorded a triple-double and Keldon Johnson scored 21 points to lead seven San Antonio scorers in double figures as the visiting Spurs defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 107-103 on Saturday.

Murray finished with 15 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds and Jakob Poeltl added 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Spurs (30-44) pulled within one game of the Pelicans (31-43) for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.

Josh Richardson scored 18 points, Joshua Primo 12 while Zach Collins and Jock Landale had 10 each.

CJ McCollum scored 32 points, Jose Alvarado added a career-best 23 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Pelicans.

The lead changed hands four times early in the fourth quarter before Landale scored eight points during a 12-0 run that gave the Spurs a 102-92 lead midway through the period.

New Orleans climbed within two points on McCollum’s basket with 41.2 seconds left. After two Spurs’ misses, Alvarado missed a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left and Johnson got loose for a layup that completed the scoring with less than a second remaining.

Jaxson Hayes’ basket started the third-quarter scoring and gave the Pelicans a 59-58 lead, starting a back-and-forth period.

The lead changed hands 12 times and the score was tied seven times in the period, which ended with the score knotted at 84.

McCollum scored all 12 of his first-quarter points during a three-minute-plus stretch and the Pelicans took a 32-22 lead at the end of the period. New Orleans made 4 of 11 3-pointers and San Antonio missed all five of its 3-point attempts.

The Pelicans’ Larry Nance Jr. made a tip-in to start the second-quarter scoring and give his team the first of two 12-point leads early in the period.

The Spurs heated up as Johnson made a 3-pointer to conclude a 17-4 run that gave them a 45-44 lead.

McCollum answered with a basket and the lead changed hands twice more in the quarter. The last change came when Johnson beat the buzzer with a tip-in that gave San Antonio a 58-57 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media