NEW ORLEANS — Brandon Ingram had 28 points and 11 rebounds and the New Orleans Pelicans held on for a 98-95 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night.
The Spurs had a chance to tie after Steven Adams, whose put-back dunk had given New Orleans a 97-91 lead with two minutes left, missed a pair of free throws with 11 seconds remaining.
But Eric Bledsoe blocked DeMar DeRozan's 3-point attempt from behind in the final seconds to preserve a victory that New Orleans first-year coach Stan Van Gundy found gratifying on a night when his team overcame relatively poor shooting.
“As a coach, these are my favourite kinds of wins,” Van Gundy said. "Not that I want to shoot like that every night, but to shoot 38% — and 20% from 3 — and be able to get a win against a good team, to me, is a great way to win.
“The first step is we got to get to where we don’t beat ourselves, and I'm talking specifically about turnovers and fouls," Van Gundy added.
The Pelicans had just eight turnovers to the Spurs' 15, outscored San Antonio 21-8 at the foul line and had 12 offensive rebounds to the Spurs' four.
Zion Williamson had 18 points — highlighted by five dunks — to go with 11 rebounds and five steals for the Pelicans. Lonzo Ball had 16 points and five steals, and Josh Hart had 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
Williamson missed 15 of 22 shots but still managed his third double-double in three games — and a career-high in steals.
“That’s a big part of building a wining culture," Williamson said. "When one thing isn’t working for you, don’t let it affect the other parts of your game, like defence and rebounding.”
Rudy Gay scored 22 points and Lonnie Walker IV had 16 for the Spurs, who lost for the first time after winning their first two regular season games.
“I wish I could have knocked down a couple open 3s and kind of helped us a little bit more,” Gay said. “But the last play, obviously, they sniffed it out. We couldn’t get what we wanted out of it.”
Keldon Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Dejounte Murray had 13 points, but also turned the ball over six times.
New Orleans led by 15 in the third quarter when JJ Redick hit a pull-up jumper while being fouled by Gay and completed the 3-point play to make it 79-64.
The Spurs then suddenly seized momentum with a 21-3 run that put them back in front, 85-82, early in the fourth quarter.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said his players' “effort was great.”
“I don’t think we were as sharp as we have been offensively, but the defence allowed us to stay in the game,” Popvich said. "I’m really proud of them for that.”
Spurs: DeRozan had 10 assists, and Patty Mills finished with 10 points. San Antonio had won the previous four meetings, with its last loss in the series coming Nov. 19, 2018, in New Orleans. ... The Spurs were playing their second game in two nights after beating Toronto in San Antonio on Saturday night.
Pelicans: Williamson and Ingram combined to shoot just 5 of 20 from the field in the first half, but New Orleans led 47-45 at halftime. ... Redick missed his first six of his 3-point attempts, normally his forte, and New Orleans shot just 20.8% (5 of 24) from deep.
The Pelicans, who finished the previous season in the NBA’s “bubble” at Disney World because of the COVID-19 pandemic, were playing their first regular-season game in New Orleans since March 6.
About 750 ticketed fans were permitted to attend the game in the lower bowl, but none within the five closest rows to the court. A number of luxury suites also were occupied. Team guests occupied a couple rows of floor seating opposite benches and spaced farther from the sideline that in normal times. Masks were required.
Spurs: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night in the first of three straight home games.
Pelicans: Begin a two-game road trip at Phoenix on Tuesday night.
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Brett Martel, The Associated Press