For the third game in a row, the New Orleans Pelicans offense started meekly. At halftime, the team had scored only 27 points in 20 minutes. However, the script changed in the second half as the Pelicans gained plenty of momentum, propelling them to a 70-66 victory.
The magic touch was likely the head coach. Walking across the floor to the locker room at halftime, Robert Pack was visibly in Buddy Hield's ear. The former Oklahoma Sooner star had a meager line of 4 points, on 2 of 8 shooting, and 2 assists. No made threes. No rebounds.
"I said something to him. He got the message and it turned out well for us."
In the third quarter alone, Hield tallied 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 threes. In his post-game comments, Buddy halfheartedly credited the pep talk for the turnaround.
"You get fed up losing. The coach said if I don't make a shot, he'd shoot me."
Pelicans win, 70-66. Buddy Hield had a line of 23 points (10-23 FGs), 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 treys. pic.twitter.com/NQT5KwpTBv— Oleh Kosel (@Redhopeful) July 12, 2016
Pack believes Buddy Hield has improved in every game, but the Summer League has been a good test for the hopeful star. The thought process is Hield will take everything he's learned in Las Vegas and use it to work on his game before training camp opens in September.
"This summer will give him a feel of how he needs to play, a test of how people are going to play him. How he's got to be patience with his setups...This will give him a test of things he needs to work on before he gets to camp to have a productive first year."
For instance, although Buddy Hield has surpassed the 20-point barrier in consecutive games, he knows he will have to work on increasing the number of good looks he has to shoot the basketball.
"Yeah, it's been tougher to get looks. You come with a label on you, everybody wants a piece of you. You're the sixth pick in the draft, and everyone knows you're a scorer, so they're trying to get a piece of you so you have to bring it each and every night. This is the NBA, there are no nights off."
For the Pelicans other drafted rookie, Cheick Diallo was unable to get into any offensive flow for the entire game, scoring just 5 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 5 personal fouls. Pack noted a difference in the young center's performance.
"I thought he was a little antsy. He was a little antsy. He kind of got away from the things that he had been doing in the first two games. At spurts, he went back to them, but it happens."
Today was a good reality check regarding Diallo -- he is just 19 years old and fresh off a freshman college season where he spent a mere 202 minutes on the floor. It's almost impossible to not imagine quite a few more bumps in the road because of such a lack of experience. But, have faith he will figure things out. His prior two games serve as a testament that he may be a quick learner, and combined with his immense athletic ability and work ethic, he'll get there sooner rather than later.
The Pelicans will next play on Wednesday, the start of the Summer League playoffs. Despite all W/L records up to this point, every team is guaranteed to play two more games in the tournament. Once all play has concluded tomorrow, the Pelicans will be aware of their next opponent. Be sure to check this tournament bracket on NBA.com.