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Pelicans smother Wembanyama-less Spurs

MANILA, Philippines -- The New Orleans Pelicans took advantage of the absence of super rookie Victor Wembanyama and sent the San Antonio Spurs to their 14th straight loss, 121-106, in their NBA clash Saturday morning (Manila time).

The 7-foot-4 Wembanyama missed his first NBA game in his young career due to a hip injury.

With the big man out, Jonas Valanciunas feasted from inside as he finished with 24 points and 12 boards.

The game was close at the half, with New Orleans leading by two, 63-61, after the first two quarters.

The Pelicans ran away from the Spurs in the second half, outscoring the Western Conference laggards 58-45 in the final two periods.

The lead grew to as much as 16 points as Naji Marshall hit a 3-pointer with 1:21 remaining to take a 119-103 lead.

Seconding Valanciunas in scoring is CJ McCollum, who pumped in 19 points and dished out eight assists.

The returning Trey Murphy III had 18 markers for the Pelicans.

Devin Vassell led the Spurs with 14 points off the bench.

New Orleans is now holding an 11-9 win-loss slate, good for eighth in the west.

The Spurs crashed further to 3-16.