NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis had 22 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks and three steals, and the New Orleans Pelicans assured themselves no worse than the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a 122-98 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night.
Rajon Rondo had 19 points and 14 assists, Nikola Mirotic had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday added 19 points for the Pelicans, led by double-digits throughout the second half, with their largest lead topping out at 25.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Dejounte Murray each scored 11 the Spurs, who were already playoff bound but went to the locker room after their loss in New Orleans knowing they’d be at best a seventh seed. With his team struggling to keep pace with the Pelicans, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pulled his regulars early in the fourth quarter, limiting all of his key players to fewer than 30 minutes on the court.
Rondo orchestrated New Orleans’ offense with a vintage performance, setting up Davis for a several spectacular dunks and setting up a number of other teammates with close-range shots or open looks from the perimeter.
The Pelicans finished with 78 points in the paint and shot 59.1 percent (52 of 88). New Orleans also had 32 points on fast breaks, compared to 17 for the Spurs.
Both sides opened the game showcasing attractive offense and that continued until 4:32 remained in the second quarter, when Pau Gasol sank a short turnaround to cut New Orleans’ lead to 42-39.
Soon after, however, New Orleans began clamping down on defense and ramping up its tempo in transition, closing the second quarter on a 19-4 run that earned the Pelicans a standing ovation as they walked off the floor at halftime with a 61-43 lead.
Mirotic scored seven points during the spurt, all on layups set up by Rondo, including one as he was fouled by Gasol.
Spurs: Kyle Anderson and Bryn Forbes each scored 10 points. ... Remained without Kawhi Leonard, who wound up playing in only nine games during the regular season because of a lingering right quadriceps injury. His availability for the playoffs remains unclear. ... Finished 14-26 on the road, losing their last eight away from San Antonio.
Pelicans: Won the season series against San Antonio, 3-1. ... Mirotic hasn’t scored fewer than 21 in any of New Orleans past five games. .... New Orleans’ 48 victories is the third most in franchise history, which officially dates back to the NBA’s return to the city in 2002-03. When Chris Paul played in New Orleans, the club won 56 games in 2007-08 and 49 in 2008-09.
Spurs: Prepare for a first-round playoff matchup against either top-seeded Houston or defending champion Golden State.
Pelicans: Prepare for a playoff matchup against Portland.