Kawhi Leonard scores 20 points; Spurs shut down Davis, Pelicans (w/fan slideshow)
Spurs improve to 3-0, shut down Anthony Davis
SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs picked up where they left off last year when it comes to dominating teams on their home floor during the regular season.
San Antonio beat the New Orleans Pelicans 98-79. They have now won three in a row to open the season.
The Spurs were led most of the way by Patty Mills, who usually comes off the bench, but got the start in place of Tony Parker. Parker along with Manu Ginobili got to sit and rest.
"It was a good opportunity. Obviously both groups play different styles so it was good to get out with the first group today," Mills said.
Mills had 13 points in the first half, including a three pointer at the halftime buzzer, to give the Spurs the lead at the half 55-45. Mills finished with 18 points and five assists.
It was also a pretty good night for the big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Gasol played his best game by far.
Aldridge scored 12 and even had a personal 8-0 run in the first quarter. Gasol, ,who is still trying to find his way, finished with a season high nine points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists.
"Try to get a feel for what's your role and how much you should do and shouldn't do," Gasol said. " It's a process and I think you want to be yourself out there, you want to do well and play well but at the same time you have to do whatever's best for the team."
The Spurs, playing their third game in five nights, opened up an 11 point lead in the second quarter.
After scoring 45 points Friday night in the loss to Golden state, the Spurs held Anthony Davis to just 18. Aldridge spent a good portion of his night guarding Davis one on one.
Kawhi Leonard started off slow, only hitting one field goal in the first half scoring 4 points. But he picked it up in the second half and finished with 20.
Mills' backup against the Pelicans was Nico Laprovittola who scored his first points as a Spur. He scored seven points and dished out four assists in nearly 22 minutes of action.
"A little nervous, my first game at home," Laprovittola said. Ginobili has helped him prepare for this moment and Laprovittola had high praise for him. "For me, he is not like an older brother, he is like a God."
He got a good laugh from the media out of that one, but he was also serious about what Manu meant to him.
"I grew up watching Manu on TV, watching Manu win gold medals. It's a great honor to play with the Spurs," Laprovittola said.
The Spurs got the lead to 20 points in the fourth quarter and the starters got some much needed rest since they play in Miami Sunday night, their fourth game in six nights.
Note: Mills was asked if he could pronounce Nico Laprovittola's name yet. "Nico," Patty said," nailed it."
Note: Rookie first round draft pick Dejounte Murray saw his first action he went scoreless but did have an assist
Pelicans: Davis played 32 minutes, raising his season total to 113. Prior to the game, New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said he was not concerned about the early workload, noting Davis is 23-years-old and capable of handling big minutes.
Spurs: San Antonio has seven new players on its 15-man roster this season, including rookies Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, Nico Laprovittola and Davis Bertans. ... Spurs coach Gregg Popovich chastised Jonathan Simmons for offensive goaltending when he dunked Laprovittola's layup as it was still on the cylinder. The veteran coach pointed to his head to signal the second-year player should be wiser. Simmons responded in the final quarter with a thunderous dunk over 7-foot-2 center Alexis Ajinca. Simmons finished with 11 points.
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