SAN ANTONIO — The New Orleans Pelicans put a scare in San Antonio, but it wasn’t enough to snap the Spurs’ franchise-record home start.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a season-high 36 points, outscoring fellow Western Conference All-Star reserve Anthony Davis by eight to lead San Antonio to a 110-97 victory on Wednesday night.
“We have to play a lot better, especially on the road against a team like this,” Davis said. “We have to play a lot better than what we did from an offensive standpoint. Defensively, we kind of lost our man a couple of times and our weak side wasn’t great tonight, but we still have to get ready for tomorrow.”
New Orleans hosts the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
Davis finished 11 for 22 from the field and had 10 rebounds against San Antonio, but didn’t have enough support in the final minutes to combat Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. Davis had just three points in the fourth, but he was the only Pelicans start to score in the quarter.
“I thought LaMarcus did a great job of getting post position on the inside,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. “It’s hard for us to double them because they’ve got 3-point shooters all over the place. So, Anthony had to play him solo a lot of the time, whereas on our end of the floor they doubled Anthony almost every time he got the ball.”
Leonard finished with 26 points as the Spurs won their 27th straight regular-season home game to open the season and 35th overall at home since March 2015.
Leonard guarded Ryan Anderson during the fourth quarter as the Spurs went small to counter the Pelicans’ long-range shooting.
“We want to stick with Ryan Anderson, who’s scored about 90 a game against us over the last few years,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “So, we wouldn’t guard him with a big, we had to go small.”
The matchup against the Pelicans was a little too close for a team that leads the league with 17 victories by at least 20 points.
San Antonio entered the game as the league’s leading defense, but New Orleans had its way early by attacking the paint.
Pelicans point guard Norris Cole, starting in place of an injured Eric Gordon, got New Orleans off to a fast start. Cole had four points and an assist in the first four minutes as the Pelicans led by as many as seven points in the opening quarter.
Davis had a monstrous start after scoring 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds against Memphis’ mammoth frontcourt duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Davis found similar success early against David West and Aldridge, the Spurs’ major offseason acquisition. Davis opened the game shooting 5 for 7 in scoring 12 points in the first quarter.
New Orleans shot 50 percent from the field throughout much of the the first quarter before San Antonio rallied behind its long-range shooting.
San Antonio was able to close the quarter on a 13-4 run behind three 3-pointers by Danny Green. The Spurs finished the game 9 for 15 on 3s, with Green hitting a fourth while scoring 16 points.
“It’s a game of runs,” New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday said. “I guess we really got into a groove at that point and obviously when they made their run, we retaliated.”
The Pelicans rallied to take a 69-68 lead in the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Davis, but Aldridge and Leonard took advantage of short-handed New Orleans in the final quarter.
“I thought they did a good job,” Gentry said. “They doubled us, but then when we swung the ball I thought they did a great job of running us off 3s and challenging 3s.”
Aldridge and Leonard combined for 20 points in the final quarter, shooting 6 for 10 and grabbing four rebounds. Davis had three points and two rebounds in the final quarter.
“We had a tough time getting them stopped,” Gentry said. “You can see what happened when we did get stops, we were able to run out and get ourselves back in the game. The last five minutes we had trouble coming up with any stops, and then we had trouble scoring. That usually spells doom.”
The Pelicans were also without Tyreke Evans, who missed his fourth straight game with a sore right knee. New Orleans was also without wing Quincy Pondexter.