8:30 PM ET, March 29, 2014
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
SAN ANTONIO -- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admitted he is getting antsy for a loss. He'll have to wait.
Marco Belinelli scored 18 points and San Antonio never trailed after its opening possession, extending its winning streak to 17 games with a 96-80 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.
The Spurs once again used fluid passing and tireless player movement to overwhelm an opponent. San Antonio finished with 24 assists while going 37 for 78 from the field in snapping New Orleans' five-game winning streak.
"They move around a lot, and run their sets hard," Pelicans guard Brian Roberts said. "Whatever they're running, they are moving constantly. It puts pressure on a defense to play 24 seconds worth."
San Antonio (57-16) extended its lead to 3½ games over Oklahoma City (53-19) for the league's best record.
In addition to winning its last 17, the Spurs have won 20 of 21 and have not lost since falling 106-85 to the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 21.
"It is sweet to be a part of that," Ginobili said. "It is not something that happens very often because it is a long spread of game, a month or two. Here or there you have a bad game or the opponent has a bad one, but a lot of things have combined for us to have this type of streak. We played really well and we are healthy."
New Orleans was without Anthony Davis, its leading scorer and rebounder. Davis injured his left ankle 4 minutes into the Pelicans' victory over Utah on Friday night.
"It's a joint/soft tissue injury right now," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "He did it in his normal routine. He's listed as day to day. We'll see how he feels tomorrow."
Williams said the Pelicans would have had a tough task even with Davis and the Spurs showed why early.
"They jumped on us," Evans said. "They just moved the ball hit shots and we couldn't make a shot."
San Antonio opened the game on a 23-6 run, with Belinelli picked up where he left off Friday night.
He was 4 for 5 on 3-pointers against New Orleans after going 6 for 9 on 3-pointers Friday while scoring a game-high 27 points in a 133-102 victory in Denver.
"He's been really steady for us and he plays a great all-around game," Popovich said.
Belinelli made his first two 3-pointers against the Pelicans after opening with a 15-foot jumper off an assist from Duncan.
Belinelli's first 3-pointer with 6 minutes remaining in the first quarter gave San Antonio a 16-4 lead. The Spurs would never lead by less than 10 points the rest of the way.
After Alexis Ajinca hit a 17-foot jumper on the game's opening possession, New Orleans did not score again until Greg Stiemsma's dunk with 8:21 remaining in the first quarter. The three-minute drought was followed by another three-minute drought.
"We couldn't finish in the paint tonight," Williams said. "We were 18 for 48 in the paint. That's a bad number for us. We're a team that usually is high when it comes to points in the paint."
Rivers' layup pulled New Orleans within 69-59 with 30.9 seconds left in the third quarter, but Belinelli hit back-to-back 3s to fuel a 12-3 run and San Antonio reasserted its control.
San Antonio travels to Indiana to play the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers on Monday.
Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson sat courtside during the game cheering the Spurs. Mickelson withdrew Saturday from the third round of the Valero Texas Open after injuring an oblique muscle. "I pulled a muscle on my downswing trying to hit the ball hard on the second hole (his 11th)," Mickelson said in a statement. "It just killed and it wouldn't subside for 10 or 12 seconds." ... Spurs Danny Green (right foot inflammation) and Matt Bonner (right calf strain) both sat out the game. ... Roberts played 29 minutes after being listed as day to day with a left knee bone bruise.
SAN ANTONIO, TX - March 29: Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs drives against the New Orleans Pelicans at the...
Next 5 Games
The Spurs are currently 15-0 in the month of March, and with a win against Indiana Monday they would tie their own record for the best month of March by any team in NBA history. Playing great basketball as the season winds down doesn't always net results playoff results, but the Heat won the title last season after going 17-1 in March.[+]
Best Record in March (ELIAS)
The Spurs are 1 of 18 teams to lose a Game 7 in the NBA Finals. San Antonio's .778 win percentage this season would be the 2nd best by a team in the season following a Game 7 loss, ever so slightly behind the Pistons, who posted .780 win percentage in 2005-06 after losing in Game 7 to the Spurs the previous season. The Spurs, currently riding a 16-game win streak, are a league-best 56-16 this season. San Antonio would be the 3rd team to post the league's best outright win percentage in the season following a NBA Finals Game 7 loss (1988-89 and 2005-06 Pistons). The 1988-89 Pistons won the NBA title while the 2005-06 team was knocked out in the Conference Finals. Of the 17 previous teams to lose in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, 11 actually made it back to the Finals the following season and 5 went on to capture the title (the last to do so were the Pistons, who lost in 7 games in the 1987-88 Finals and then won the following season). The last 3 teams to lose a NBA Finals Game 7 failed to make it back to the NBA Finals the following season.[+]
Result in Season Following Game 7 Loss in NBA Finals - Last 5 Instances
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