The run of exhibition basketball fun is over.
For a second straight summer league game, the New Orleans Pelicans found themselves in overtime, but this time they came up holding the short end of stick, losing by a final score of 88-86 to the Memphis Grizzlies. The loss eliminated the Pelicans from the 2019 tournament bracket and the Grizzlies will go on to face the Timberwolves tomorrow in the finals.
This contest was quite the up-and-down affair. After failing to convert on their first two possessions, New Orleans raced out to a 10-1 lead. Then the Grizzlies dominated things until near the end of the third quarter. However, the Pelicans never quit, climbing out of their 15-point hole with 1:33 left in the third to force OT — they even jumped out to a quick lead after a Trevon Bluiett three-pointer. Nevertheless, it wasn’t meant to be. The Grizzlies were the steadier team throughout and 16 offensive rebounds plus a 23-point effort by Brandon Clarke proved to be the differences.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who breathed fire in his previous three contests, struggled to find the range on Sunday night. Although his all-around contributions remained on full display (seven rebounds, five assists, three steals), NAW only managed to finish with 14 points on 23 shots. Inside the game’s final minute of action, he traveled on one possession and then threw the ball away on another. Costly mistakes for sure, but one should remain high on his future potential if you were excited about him prior to Las Vegas. Tonight’s lack of success should only serve as a great learning experience for him.
The biggest positive impacts were made by Trevon Bluiett (16 points, five rebounds and three treys off the bench), Jaxson Hayes (nine points, six rebounds and a +10 in the plus/minus category) and Didi Louzada Silva (14 points, six rebounds and two steals). The 20-year-old Brazilian impressed in particular as he tossed in nine points in the final frame while showing no fear on drives to the rim.
Kenrich Williams dropped a double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) and also came up with three steals and a block, and Zylan Cheatham scored eight points and nabbed five rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
After posting a 4-2 record in Vegas and raising hopes all across the Gulf South, the arrow remains pointed firmly upwards. Thanks to the input of Trajan Langdon, Swin Cash and the rest of the front office, New Orleans does appear to be loaded with young good talent beyond Zion Williamson.
This latest edition of summer league basketball proved to be one of the most successful trips in franchise history, but let’s consider it another small victory in David Griffin’s eyes — since he likely will. There’s no need to get too high or too low by these results in the grand scheme of things because it’s more important that the organization continues to get a little better each and every day. Mission accomplished, but how cool was it to watch the Executive Vice President of the Pelicans — the guy sitting atop of the decision-making food chain — be one of the very first people to congratulate players, coaches and other front office personnel at the immediate conclusion of this summer of fun?
Check out David Griffin waiting in the hallway to congratulate the entire team when they start heading to the locker room.— Oleh Kosel (@OlehKosel) July 14, 2019
The man at the top of the New Orleans Pelicans walks the walk. https://t.co/cKQ8AsfWp7
This entire cast of Pelicans will now return back to the grind of the rest of the offseason in preparation for the 2019-20 campaign, but I’ll be honest, September’s media day just can’t get here fast enough.