NEW ORLEANS (AP) — With a sore left wrist taking away half his offensive game, LaMarcus Aldridge could have been another injured player sitting out.
After testing his wrist in warmups, he decided to play and had a team-high 28 points and 12 rebounds to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 126-114 victory over the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
“I wanted to play,” Aldridge said after getting his 15th double-double of the season. “We’ve been up and down – more down – lately, so I just wanted to play and give us a better chance to win.”
pleading with coach Gregg Popovich to let him play, especially with San Antonio’s leading scorer, DeMar De Rozan sidelined with a sore knee.
Popovich said he wanted to rest Aldridge because of the injury he sustained in a 122-120 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday night, but Aldridge insisted on playing.
“He showed a lot of heart,” Popovich said. “He took one for the team tonight.”
Rudy Gay had 22 points, including 11 in the third quarter, and 11 rebounds to help San Antonio snap a two-game skid.
Aldridge had 12 points during a decisive spurt in the third quarter as the Spurs used a 25-12 run to extend a three-point halftime lead to 85-69. The Spurs shot 55 percent from the field in the period and outscored the Pelicans 36-28.
New Orleans played without four key injured contributors — Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, Nikola Mirotic and E’Twaun Moore — but the Spurs also had to overcome the absence of leading scorer DeMar DeRozan.
The Spurs took advantage of the depleted Pelicans, finishing with a 51-41 advantage in rebounding.
“We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves, but obviously, we’re outmanned,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “But I thought the guys tried to do everything they could. We hung in and hung in and eventually the rebounding part is going to hurt you.”
Aldridge showed few signs of the injury hurting his overall shooting performance, going 12 of 20 from the field, but he said he knew he was limited.
“I couldn’t shoot with my left (hand),” Aldridge said. “Obviously, I took the one shot left and (Jahlil Okafor) blocked it easy. After that, I learned really quickly I couldn’t shoot with my left, so everything was all right.”
When the Spurs pushed their lead to 21 points in the fourth quarter, Aldridge was able sit and ice his wrist on the bench.
“To see what (Aldridge) goes through day in and day out, being tested on both ends of the floor every single game and being a big leader for us — I didn’t know he was going to be able to play today,” Spurs forward Quincy Pondexter said. “I saw him taping up and getting warmed up and he just told me he wanted to go out there and help us.”
Jrue Holiday had a game-high 29 points to lead the Pelicans, and Jahlil Okafor added 24 points and 15 rebounds.
The Pelicans, who lost their third straight game, battled hard. Okafor went up against Aldridge, scoring 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds in the first half. Aldridge led the Spurs with 16 first-half points on 7-of-13 shooting as San Antonio took a 60-57 lead at the half.
Spurs: DeRozan (21.5 ppg) was sidelined with a sore left knee, and coach Gregg Popovich said the rest may be beneficial because DeRozan is suffering from an assortment of “bumps and bruises.” … The Spurs improved to 10-15 on the road.
Pelicans: Saturday was the anniversary of the Achilles injury that ended the season of former Pelicans C DeMarcus Cousins and eventually saw him sign with Golden State. … F Julius Randle sat out with a sprained right ankle. … Gentry said his team, which ranked 13th in the Western Conference, will not have “a pity party” because of injuries to Davis (sprained left index finger) and Mirotic (sprained right calf). Davis missed his fourth consecutive game — the Pelicans are 1-3 during that stretch — and Mirotic his second. … Davis injured the finger Jan. 18 but could return next week. “I still say eventually we’ll be healthy enough and have enough guys that we’re going to make a run at it,” Gentry said. “We’ve proven when we’re healthy that we’re pretty good.” … Gentry said G Elfrid Payton still is bothered by the left finger he broke in November that caused him to miss 22 games.
Spurs: Host Washington on Sunday night to open a four-game homestand.
Pelicans: Visit Houston on Tuesday night.
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