Spurs-Pelicans Preview


Injuries aren't fazing the San Antonio Spurs.

A matchup with the struggling New Orleans Pelicans doesn't figure to, either.

The Spurs will likely need to show off their impressive scoring depth Monday night when they look to continue their dominance of the Pelicans.

San Antonio (29-8) owns the best record in the Western Conference, and is one-half game behind Indiana for the league's best mark.

The Spurs have won seven of eight games while averaging 110.5 points. The stretch, which includes a four-game winning streak, is made even more impressive as injuries continue to mount.

Manu Ginobili has missed two games with tightness in his left hamstring, while Tiago Splitter's sprained right shoulder has already kept him out for three and he's not expected back for at least another two weeks.

While it's unclear if Ginobili will be back, Danny Green has been ruled out for at least Monday due to a sprained finger.

San Antonio didn't seem to miss any of them Sunday, coasting to a 104-86 win over Minnesota after losing Green early in the second quarter. The bench picked up the slack, as six players combined for 51 points and 22 of the Spurs' 46 rebounds.

San Antonio's reserves average an NBA-leading 46.0 points.

"You've got to stay ready, especially around here," forward Tim Duncan said of overcoming the injuries. "That's what we preach, we're getting everybody ready and you'll get your opportunity whether it comes at the beginning or in the middle or in the end whenever it may be. When your time comes, you need to be ready to go because you're going to earn your minutes."

Kawhi Leonard has maintained that philosophy, averaging 15.3 points on 69.0 percent from the field - 4 of 7 from beyond the arc - over the past three games. The forward hit 8 of 11 field goals Saturday, scoring 13 of his team-high 17 points in the second half.

At 11.9 points per game, he is one of five Spurs to average double digits.

Leonard had seven points and 11 rebounds against New Orleans on Nov. 25, while the bench contributed 65 points, 21 boards and six assists in a 112-93 win.

Marco Belinelli had 14 points in that meeting, and he's averaging 17.2 on 62.3 percent shooting - 12 of 20 from long range - over the past five games.

San Antonio has won 15 of the past 18 meetings with the Pelicans (15-21). However, the Spurs' only defeat in the last nine matchups was a 95-88 loss in the most recent one in New Orleans on Jan. 7, 2013.

The Pelicans are trying to avoid their first six-game slide since dropping 11 straight Dec. 5-22, 2012.

Their skid reached five games with Saturday's 110-107 loss at Dallas, a day after falling 107-90 in the opener of the home-and-home set.

Anthony Davis can't be blamed for the Pelicans' struggles, averaging 23.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks over the past four games. The forward had 28 points and 14 boards Saturday.

Davis may be in for a much stiffer test since he's averaging 15.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in five career meetings with the Spurs. That includes 10 and six, respectively, while adding four blocks in the most recent matchup.