Sometimes the best laid plans should just be thrown out the window. From the opening tip, the Los Angeles Lakers dominated the New Orleans Pelicans. Buddy Hield and his teammates failed to find the mark most of the night, shooting a frigid 32.9% from the floor and a ghastly 15% from three-point range.
The Blue and Gold raced out to an 11-2 lead, much to the enjoyment of a very pro-L.A. crowd, and a lopsided 27-12 thrashing in the second quarter ensured a comfortable double digit lead for the rest of the game over the Pelicans.
Granted, two of Friday's starters in uniform, D'Angelo Russell and Larry Nance Jr., were on the first team under Byron Scott last season, yet Robert Pack, the Pelicans head coach of the Summer League squad, never once used it as an excuse, citing the difference in effort levels and execution as the main culprit.
"On this level, you really have to execute. People try and take things away and you have to really depend on the execution and being patient. I think you saw tonight they really got into us. They had a lot more effort, going to the boards, especially in the first half."
In the first half, Buddy Hield made just one shot... Of course it happened to be from a spot on the floor that was at least several feet from behind the three-point line.
For the game, Hield finished with a line of 13 points (on 5-20 from the floor), 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 three. In a little more than the first five minutes of the game, he had amassed three personal fouls -- perhaps indicating his eagerness -- but settled down after that by picking up a one additional foul for the rest of the game.
Despite the rough outing, fans have absolutely nothing to worry about because his game -- especially his shot -- is going to be fine. Shooters have bad outings, although you would have never known it initially as he approached the small gathering of post-game reporters with that patented smile on his face.
"I gotta smile after shooting the ball like that. 5-20? That's horrible. I had some good looks; I took some tough looks. The game is a lot faster than I thought it would be...It's something that I can learn from. That's what Summer League is for, for me to get better."
That's the right approach, so don't try and read any more into one meaningless performance on what appears to be a questionably constructed team. The fans in the arena and those watching from home would have preferred a better result, but to echo Buddy, "It is what it is."
Personally, I thought Buddy showed he possesses more versatility in his game than most perceive. In the first half, he made a number of passes that should have led to assists. Thanks to the length of the Lakers -- they totaled 7 blocks and changed quite a few more -- the Pelicans failed to convert on a number of good opportunities.
As for the Pelicans other drafted rookie, Cheick Diallo's line was much more palatable: 11 points (on 5-10 from the floor), 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Yet, I would urge caution with any immediate expectations because he was visibly quite raw. Physically, he needs to add weight/gain strength, as Ivica Zubac had little trouble pushing Diallo around, but the energy and explosiveness was evident on certain plays. The potential is there, he just requires a lot of developmental time.
Regarding the other participants, the positives were few and far between. Damien Inglis, for his size, made a few nice passes and had a couple of good defensive stops, but he settled for too many contested jumpshots. Anthony Barber and Ryan Boatright chucked too many shots for point guards. On one particular possession, Barber could have flipped a pass to Hield, standing just five feet away for a wide open three-point look. Instead, he dribbled it right into traffic and the window of opportunity closed quickly.
The Pelicans are scheduled to practice tomorrow so their next appearance will come on Sunday. They'll face the Utah Jazz, a team that failed to win a game in the Utah Summer League, at 7 pm central time. The contest will be televised on NBAtv.