CJ McCollum scored a game-high 32 points on Wednesday night. Brandon Ingram added 27 points, and Jonas Valančiūnas chipped in with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
No player for the Spurs lived up to their expectations. All-Star Dejounte Murray scored 16 points in 34 minutes, while Devin Vassell scored 23 points. Gregg Popovich talked about where the Spurs fell short:
"We played poorly for three quarters, and the three best players for New Orleans all played great. If that happens, you're going to lose, if you don't match that.
"We stayed in it, got back in it, but then we made the same mistakes again that we did in the first three quarters, as far as the nonphysical defense. It's the playoffs; you gotta be into people. The physicality and the grunt is really important, and we didn't have it for three quarters"
When asked if he would come back to do this again, Popovich responded:
"That question's inappropriate."
Spurs' biggest backer Skip Bayless sounds off his issues with Gregg Popovich
Skip Bayless, on "Skip and Shannon: Undisputed," talked about how he felt about Greg Popovich's comments after the Spurs' loss to the Pelicans on Wednesday:
"What has turned me against Popovich over time is, for years and years, he has gotten away with bullying media people, on TV and in postgame interviews consistently, and gotten a pass for it, because he's written off as a lovable curmudgeon. 'That's just Pop being Pop.'"
For the 22 straight years Gregg Popovich made the playoffs, he was surrounded by perhaps the best players any coach could ask for.
Pop had the greatest power forward of all time, Tim Duncan; arguably the greatest sixth-man of all time, Manu Ginobili; and six-time All-Star, 2007 Finals MVP Tony Parker. The three formed one of the most successful trios in basketball, and won four championships together in both the Kobe and LeBron eras.
Bayless commented on how much the players on the Spurs' dynasty teams made Popovich who he is today:
"Popovich has fallen to the category too often of abusive when he goes on the attack. ... I believe that Tim Duncan alone made Gregg Popovich, because Tim Duncan might be as unsung a great leader as we have ever seen. ... From all I know – and I've got pretty good sources inside – that organization, Duncan ran it"
Popovich, the NBA's winningest coach of all time, would enter his 27th year with the Spurs if he comes back next season. He has won five NBA championships and been named Coach of the Year three times.