The moment Anthony Davis rose to block LaMarcus Aldridge’s 15-foot jump shot marked the beginning of the end for the San Antonio Spurs.
Davis had 20 points and a season-high 18 rebounds in his return from a sore shoulder, and the New Orleans Pelicans beat the San Antonio Spurs 104-90 on Friday night for their second victory of the season.
The former University of Kentucky star also had two blocks in the fourth quarter. The first of those, on Aldridge with about 5 minutes to go, was the talk of New Orleans’ locker room after the game.
After batting the shot toward the sideline, Davis sprang for the ball, whipping it off Aldridge’s legs just before crashing into the first row of seats. As the ball rolled back out of bounds off Aldridge, Davis rose to his feet with an intense glare, his famous “unibrow” furrowed as he raised both arms to rile up the crowd — and his teammates.
“Those are kind of like playoff-type effort plays. Those are like, we-got-to-win-this-game-tonight type plays,” Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson said. “Seeing our leader make plays like that — dive and get us the ball back. That’s the biggest way I think you can lead on this team. He just had a great game.”
Anderson did pretty well himself, hitting six three-pointers and scoring 30 points for the second straight game. Ish Smith had 17 points and 13 assists for New Orleans (2-11), which snapped a five-game skid.
Davis said Smith is “playing out of his mind.”
“I get on him all the time. I say, ‘If they go under (the pick and roll), you’ve got to shoot the ball. You can’t have them disrespect you like that,” Davis said. “He’s making the right plays at the right time and being aggressive, and that’s what we need.”
Kawhi Leonard scored 22 for San Antonio, which lost for only the third time this season and had its six-game winning streak snapped. Aldridge left briefly in the first quarter after twisting his left ankle, but returned and finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
San Antonio’s largest lead was 8-0 just more than 3 minutes in. The Pelicans rallied to take the lead for good with 2:50 left in the first quarter.
“We were awful,” Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said. “We didn’t stay in front of people very well. If you allow that much penetration, it throws everybody off kilter when everybody is helping and guys are open for threes.”
Tony Parker, who scored 10 points, pulled the Spurs to 83-82 with a short fadeaway with 10:21 left. Smith responded with a pull-up jumper and, minutes later, fed an alley-oop lob to Davis. That made it 89-84, and the Pelicans gradually pulled away.
A FIRST FOR EVRYTHING
San Antonio’s Tim Duncan failed to grab a rebound for the first time in 1,343 career regular-season games, STATS confirmed. He scored six points in 19 minutes. But the Pelicans didn’t seem inclined to make much of their role in that. “Come on, it’s Tim Duncan. He’s played for a long time,” Anderson said. “It’s something I’m going to tell my kids about, but I’m sure he’s going to have no problem with it. I think he'll be just fine.”
Comedians George Lopez and D.L. Hughley sat together in courtside seats. The pair, part of a comedy tour performing in New Orleans on Saturday, waited outside the Pelicans’ locker room for a photo of Davis after the game. Trying to get Davis in the frame from head to toe, Lopez began to step back, saying, “How far away do I have to get?”
Spurs: G Manu Ginobili, who missed his second straight game and third in four because of tightness in his hip, is expected to return for San Antonio’s next game against Memphis, Popovich said. … Parker was assessed a technical foul in the fourth quarter for barking at officials moments after being fouled by Jrue Holiday.
Pelicans: C Omer Asik returned from a two-game absence caused by a stomach illness. He played 12 minutes, grabbing seven rebounds and scoring one point. … Holiday, who sat out Wednesday’s game as a precaution as he recovers from a right shin injury, played 24 minutes, finishing with nine points and seven assists. … Eric Gordon scored 11, including a 3 that gave the Pelicans a 100-88 lead with 2:59 remaining.