Spurs help playoff chances, top Pelicans, Zion 122-113

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San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay (22) takes a shot over New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs came to the NBA's restart bubble looking to develop their young talent.

The playoffs might be a nice bonus.

For Zion Williamson, postseason hopes have to wait until next year.

DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points, Rudy Gay added 19 off the bench and the Spurs wasted much of a 20-point, second-half lead before hanging on to beat New Orleans 122-113 on Sunday. The loss, combined with Portland's win over Philadelphia later Sunday, eliminated New Orleans from playoff contention.

“We've just got to put ourselves in a better position to win," Williamson said.

The Spurs — bidding to become the first team in NBA history to make 23 consecutive playoff appearances — moved past idle Phoenix into 10th place in the West, a half-game behind Portland for the No. 9 spot that comes with a berth in the play-in series this coming weekend.

“I think it'd be huge," said Popovich, the Spurs' coach. “If we're able to be in that ninth spot, that's quite a victory and it says a lot about how this young group has come together with three of the starters out. I'm already thrilled with how they played, and it'd be really fantastic if we could get that."

Dejounte Murray scored 18 for the Spurs. Derrick White added 16 before leaving early in the third quarter with a bruised knee.