NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans have caught a break the last couple of games, but no one is complaining.
First, it was reigning MVP Joel Embiid who missed the Pelicans’ win over the 76ers on Wednesday. Now, the Spurs will come to town without the services of phenom Victor Wembanyama. Wembanyama leads all rookies in scoring, rebounds, and blocks.
Don’t look to Pelicans fans for sympathy. Not for injuries, missed games, or losing streaks. The Spurs have lost 13 straight games heading into tonight’s game.
The Pelicans have experienced more than enough of all of those over the last five-plus seasons. Now, they’re starting to get healthier. Jose Alvarado made his return last week, CJ McCollum had 20 points on Wednesday night, and now the Pelicans add one of their most exciting and beloved young players back to the rotation…Trey Murphy III.
With a back to back with the Chicago Bulls on tap for tomorrow, the Pelicans would love to welcome Murphy back with a convincing win.
Keys to Victory
Keep Running. The Pelicans have the 10th ranked defense in the NBA; sparked by the efforts of Dyson Daniels and Herb Jones on the perimeter, a rejuvenated Jonas Valanciunas in the middle, and consistent efforts from Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. The reserves haven’t scored a lot this season, but they’ve provided energy on a nightly basis as the Pelicans have turned things around as of late. They are facing one of the NBA’s worst offenses and that’s with Slim Vic playing. The Pelicans should be able to throttle the Spurs tonight and continue to get out on the break where they are averaging 13.5 points on the break over their last eight games.
Give it to Z. Zion Williamson is on a tear. While the Pelicans are 5-3 in their last eight games, they are 5-1 with Williamson on the court. During this six-game stretch Zion has posted averages of 28.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. His efficiency has been otherworldly, with Zion shooting 63.7% from the floor and 66.7% on three-pointers. He’s even upped his free throw percentage to a fairly respectable 72.0 percent. Zion has the look right now, and he’s not at his peak with his conditioning. Right now, Zion is showing why it is so hard to imagine letting go of a player this talented.
Welcome Back Trey. Trey Murphy III will make his debut after missing the first 19 games due to knee surgery and will be on a minutes restriction, and it cannot be understated just how valuable Murphy is to the Pelicans. Last season “Trigga” was percentage points away from joining the 50/40/90 shooting club and over his final 19 games of the 2022-23 season he averaged 20.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals while shooting 51 percent from the floor, 45 percent from beyond the arc, and 90 percent at the free throw line. The threat of Murphy opened up so much for the Pelicans as they made their push to get into the play-in. And that was without Zion Williamson. Adding Trey to the mix of CJ McCollum, Jordan Hawkins, and the soon-to-return Matt Ryan, and the Pelicans’ shooting woes may be a thing of the past.
Most Recent Starting Lineups
|San Antonio Spurs
|New Orleans Pelicans
|G – Malaki Branham
|G – CJ McCollum
|G – Jeremy Sochan
|G – Herbert Jones
|F – Keldon Johnson
|F – Brandon Ingram
|F – Victor Wembanyama
|F – Zion Williamson
|C – Zach Collins
|C – Jonas Valanciunas
New Orleans Pelicans: Jose Alvarado (right ankle sprain) is questionable, Matt Ryan (right calf strain) is doubtful, and Larry Nance Jr. (right rib fracture) is out
San Antonio Spurs: Keldon Johnson (hip tightness) is probable, Doug McDermott (illness) and Victor Wembanyama (right hip tightness) are out
Who: San Antonio Spurs (3-15) vs New Orleans Pelicans (10-9)
Series history: Spurs lead all-time series 53-24, Pelicans 4-0 last season
Dec. 17: Frost Bank Center
Feb. 2: Frost Bank Center
Apr. 5: Smoothie King Center
Where: Smoothie King Center
When: Dec. 1, 7:00 PM CT
Where to watch: Bally Sports New Orleans
Where to listen: WRNO 99.5
- Zion Williamson, Pelicans Appear Poised For Big Rise In The West
- Rookie Hawkins Has Impressed By Proving To Be More Than A Shooter
- Dyson Daniels displaying impressive growth after rough season start
- Jordan Hawkins’ Time Is Now For New Orleans Pelicans
- Brandon Ingram: Can He Elevate From All-Star to All-NBA?
- Matt Ryan: Great Story of Perseverance Now Also Pelicans’ 3-point Back-up Plan
- A Lot On Herb: Jones Remains Keystone of Pelicans Defense
- New Orleans Pelicans Better Positioned to Handle Adversity
- How James Borrego Could Boost Pelicans’ Offense