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Spurs celebrate Duncan, beat Pelicans in fundamental fashion

SAN ANTONIO -- Before retiring Tim Duncan's No. 21, the San Antonio Spurs paid tribute to their longtime teammate by playing the game as he did for 19 seasons.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and the Spurs turned in a fundamentally strong performance in a 113-100 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.

"It was a game that we had to win, that we wanted to win badly," San Antonio veteran Manu Ginobili said prior to the ceremony that followed the game. "Even if we would have lost, this is way beyond it.

"Today's celebration is very, very important for his teammates, coaches and the whole franchise, the city. That guy is special. Even if we would have lost, it would have been an emotional night. I'm emotional now and it hasn't even started."

Duncan retired in the offseason after winning five championships and two MVPs in 19 seasons, all with San Antonio.

"For us, it's harder for us to stay focused for this game," Spurs guard Danny Green said. "Coming in, we knew it was going to be a lot of fun, but we wanted to be focused and respect New Orleans."

Duncan's style of play earned him the nickname "The Big Fundamental," and the Spurs honored him with their own rather seamless performance against the Pelicans.

San Antonio had six players score in double figures, got 31 assists on 42 baskets, committed just 13 turnovers and shot 49 percent from the field.

"Our physical effort was pretty good," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Our mental effort was better than it has been. A lot of people participated and got involved, so that was good."

Ginobili and Tony Parker, who combined to form "The Big Three" with Duncan, combined for 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

San Antonio won its fourth straight overall and fourth consecutive at home after a slow start at the AT&T Center.

Aldridge got the Spurs' first points on a 20-foot jumper. San Antonio signed Aldridge to play alongside Duncan last season and eventually replace him at power forward.

"He was very aggressive tonight," Popovich said. "He wanted the ball. He demanded the ball, and he got the ball. He was very aggressive going to the hole. Taking shots that were open."

Aldridge shot 6 for 15 from the field in 26 minutes.

Alexis Ajinca led New Orleans with 16 points. Anthony Davis was limited to 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting.

The Pelicans lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

"We're very inconsistent," Davis said. "One game we play well offensively, defensively we're talking, and another game we're not. We've got to figure out what team we want to be identified as. We can't keep going game from game with a different identity. We've got to come out the same way."

TIP-INS

Pelicans: F Solomon Hill missed the game to be with his wife after the birth of their first child. ... Quincy Pondexter has not played this season after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in March 2016. ... The Pelicans are 13-41 against the Spurs in franchise history, including just four wins in 28 games in San Antonio.

Spurs: San Antonio retired Duncan's jersey following the game. Among his former teammates in attendance to honor Duncan were David Robinson, Bruce Bowen, Sean Elliott, Malik Rose, Antonio Daniels and Will Perdue. ... The Spurs are 10-0 this season when Tony Parker scores in double figures. Parker had 12 on 6-for-12 shooting against the Pelicans. ... San Antonio has 30 alley-oop dunks in 26 games this season. They had 18 all of last season.

IS THERE A PATENT?

Popovich was asked if the Spurs played harder to ensure they didn't put a damper on Duncan's retirement ceremony. Popovich responded in typical Popovich fashion.

"I brought my `I want to play for Timmy Duncan tonight' gauge," Popovich said, "but I left it in the locker room so I'm not exactly sure how fired up they were."

UP NEXT

Pelicans: At New Orleans on Tuesday night.

Spurs: At Houston on Tuesday night.