Murray’s triple-double keeps Spurs’ postseason hopes alive with win over Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS — Dejounte Murray had 15 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, Keldon Johnson punctuated his 21-point night with a break-away dunk in the final seconds and the San Antonio Spurs bolstered their postseason hopes with a 107-103 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.
With this win, the Spurs are just one game back of the Pelicans for the 10th seed in the West and the final play-in spot. Both teams have eight games left to play. The Pelicans host the No. 9 seed Lakers Sunday in what will be a key play-in race game.
The Pelicans nearly wiped out a 10-point deficit in the final 3:43 and had the ball, down 105-103, in the final seconds. But the Spurs sent multiple perimeter defenders at CJ McCollum, who opted to pass to Jose Alvarado on the left wing. Alvarado, an undrafted rookie who scored a career-high 23 points, missed a 3-point shot for the lead.
Jock Landale rebounded and got to the ball to Murray, who found Johnson with a long cross-court pass for the put-away basket in a victory that pulled San Antonio one game behind New Orleans for the final Western Conference play-in spot.
Josh Richardson scored 18 points for the Spurs, who trailed 92-90 with less than nine minutes to play before stringing together a pivotal 12-0 run during which Landale scored eight on a pair of 3s and a layup set up by Zach Collins.
McCollum scored 32 and Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 11 rebounds for New Orleans, which led most of the first half. The Pelicans led by as many as 12 points when Larry Nance Jr., in just his second game back from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, tipped in Graham’s missed 3 early in the second quarter to make it 34-22.
The Spurs controlled the rest of the quarter, however, thanks in large part to Richardson, who scored 11 of his points in a four-minute span in the middle of the period.
Richardson’s three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point attempt gave the Spurs a 50-46 lead with 4:30 left in the half.
New Orleans rallied to briefly take the lead after Herb Jones’ forceful, fast-break two-handed jam and Alvarado’s 3 made it 57-54, but Tre Jones’ driving layup and Johnson’s tip-in in the final seconds gave the Spurs a 58-57 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was a back-and-forth affair which ended in an 84-all tie. If that wasn’t enough to set up a tense finish, Pelicans forward Naji Marshall was called for a flagrant foul when his hand caught Collins in the face in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Brandon Ingram, who leads the Pelicans with 22.8 points per game, missed his 10th straight game with a sore hamstring after being listed as questionable coming in.