Grades: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans – Game #31

The San Antonio Spurs fell to 10-21 on the season after losing to the New Orleans Pelicans (19-12) on Thursday night. After a ragged start, the Spurs were down 37-17 at the end of the first quarter. Heading into the final period, San Antonio still trailed by 19 points. However, the good guys scored the first ten points of the fourth quarter to make things interesting.

The Spurs got within eight points in the fourth but ultimately it was too little, too late. The Pelicans won the game by a final score of 126-117 behind 40 points from CJ McCollum. 

San Antonio was playing without Keldon Johnson, who missed his second straight game. Considering the circumstances, the Spurs shouldn’t feel too bad about how they played. The effort and sticktoitiveness were there after the slow start. On this night, they simply didn’t have enough talent to complete the comeback.

Spurs at Pelicans – Final Grades

spurs pelicans grades

Devin Vassell

With Keldon Johnson out, Vassell was the go-to scorer. Unfortunately, he failed to thrive in that role. The Pelicans paid him extra attention and Vassell struggled to find any open looks. In fact, to finish 4-for-13 from the field, he had to knock down a couple of very difficult jumpers. The silver linings: Vassell rebounded with gusto, passed the ball very well and kept his head on a swivel in the passing lanes. That said, his individual defense was nothing to write home about.

Grade: C-

Jakob Poeltl

Poeltl seemed to lack energy and oomph on the boards and on the defensive end. There were times where he was just going through the motions. Offensively, he did well when he tried to score the ball but wasn’t distributing the rock as well as usual. All in all, Poeltl simply didn’t play with the liveliness we’ve come to expect out of him.

Grade: C

Tre Jones

The Pelicans were basically ignoring Jones on the offensive end. Jones responded by scoring 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor — but it wasn’t enough. New Orleans continued to ignore him and they successfully took away his passing lanes. I loved Jones’ competitiveness defensively but he needed to do even more offensively to make the Pelicans pay for the disrespect.

Grade: B-

Jeremy Sochan

This was easily the best game of Sochan’s rookie season. He poured in 23 points, pulled down nine rebounds and handed out six assists. He hit 7-of-14 shots from the floor, 2-of-4 three-pointers and 7-of-10 one-handed free throws. Strangely enough, it seems like he supercharged his offensive confidence by changing his free throw mechanics. Sochan didn’t hesitate to shoot threes, drove the ball with purpose and finished well in the paint. His combination of expansive court vision, passing on the move and bruising finishing at the rim was impressive to watch. Sochan also competed well defensively and was impactful in transition.

Grade: A+

Romeo Langford

Eh, this was a return of the much-too-passive version of Langford. Shooting one time in 18 minutes isn’t going to cut it, especially when his defense was nothing special. He picked up five fouls in 18 minutes and also added two turnovers. Langford is at his best when he keeps the pedal to the metal. Tonight, he was just coasting.

Grade: D

Josh Richardson

I was impressed with Richardson. Despite limited spacing, he shot well from the field. He also made plays at an above average clip and his defense was better than average. When the Spurs were at their best this game, it usually involved Richardson being in the middle of things.

Grade: A-

Malaki Branham

Branham didn’t play as well as he played in his last two outings but he continued his hot shooting ways. In his last three games, he’s now 14-for-19 (73.7%) from the field. Against the Pelicans, Branham would have been better served being more selfish. As it was, he passed up a couple shots and a few driving lanes. He also appeared to be tentative on the defensive end, which wasn’t the case in the two previous contests.

Grade: B

Zach Collins

I thought Collins was really bad in the first half. With Poeltl battling foul trouble, Collins got to play extra minutes — and he did next to nothing in the first two quarters. He wasn’t rebounding, wasn’t defending and wasn’t helping out offensively. Collins got a little bit better in the second half but it remained a night that he’d be better off forgetting ever happened.

Grade: D+

Doug McDermott

McDermott’s aggression was commendable but everything else was substandard. He didn’t shoot it straight, his shot-selection was iffy and his defense was even worse than usual. McDermott had a few highlights here and there but he surely wasn’t pleased with his performance.

Grade: C-

Stanley Johnson

Johnson didn’t play until the third quarter but he instantaneously made a difference. Defensively, he’s really impressive. He’s quick, strong as an ox and he reads the proceedings well. Offensively, he hit a three-pointer and had a pair of old-fashioned and-ones through contact. He also handled the ball decently well and authored heady passes. Johnson made a strong case that he deserves a spot in the rotation. 

Grade: A

Keita Bates-Diop

Bates-Diop really struggled defensively, particularly when he was switched onto guards on the perimeter. He also wasn’t of much help in the paint. Offensively, Bates-Diop was better but it didn’t make up for his defensive shortcomings.

Grade: C-

Charles Bassey

Bassey gave great effort rebounding-wise but everything else was a struggle, as evidenced by his 0-for-2 shooting and his three turnovers in eight minutes.

Grade: C-

Isaiah Roby

Roby didn’t hit the floor until garbage time.

Grade: Inc.


Pop did well for the most part. Giving Sochan more and more playmaking opportunities is paying dividends. I also like that Branham remains in the rotation. However, in retrospect, Johnson should have been in the rotation if Pop wanted to try to win the game. Pop’s play-calling was also not overly impressive, especially in terms of creating scoring opportunities for Vassell. 

Grade: B-