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Kira Lewis’ game-high 22 points paces Pelicans to 87-74 victory over Cavaliers

The team’s defensive effort was on point again as New Orleans improves to 3-0 in summer league action

NBA: Summer League-NBA TV New Orleans Pelicans at Cleveland Cavaliers Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans seemingly copied the template from their first two summer league games in an 87-74 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday evening.

After a dubious offensive start that was responsible for a 37-33 halftime score, the Pelicans pulled away for a double-digit win during the final 20 minutes of game action.

The first half was a really brutal watch. The defense was on point from the tip — hey, Evan Mobley recorded just a single bucket (1-4) before intermission — but the offense was severely disjointed, evidenced by five assists vs. eight turnovers and 11 makes in 37 shot attempts. There was, however, one player who was exempt from the issue of putting the ball through the hoop.

Following up his solid 12-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist effort on Wednesday, Kira Lewis Jr. scored 10 points in today’s first half and finished with 22 overall. He knocked down a couple of 3-balls and shot a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. Lewis’ steadiness has been one of best things to witness thus far in Vegas.

Jose Alvarado, Lewis’ backup, acquitted himself well against the Cavaliers, too, scoring eight points (two 3s) in 14 minutes while dropping this beautiful dime to Daulton Hommes for a highlight dunk.

Outside of also Didi Louzada and Greg DiLeo’s 3-6 shooting lines, the other Pelicans couldn’t find their offensive grooves.

Naji Marshall struggled with his shot (6-15 FGs, 2-5 FTs), but the effort was outstanding once again, displayed by his 11 rebounds and three steals. Ditto for Herbert Jones (2-8 FGs, five rebounds, three steals) and Trey Murphy III (3-9 FGs, seven rebounds, two blocks), although they added replay-worthy jams.

It must be mentioned that Murphy spoiled us with yet another potential facet to his game. We’ve seen the superior defense, excellent effort levels and solid rebounding throughout, the outside shooting in game 1, several floaters in game 2, but tonight the passing ability stood front and center.

Murphy finished a game-high seven assists. My favorite was his fourth dime, a beauty off a drive and kick to Naji that resulted in a catch-and-shoot three.

Yes, it’s summer league, but Murphy’s bag looks to be larger than anyone expected — he looks capable of being a lot more than just a 3-and-D wing in this league one day ... maybe one day soon.

Without a doubt, the entire New Orleans summer league roster has played with an unmistakably strong competitive spirit, shining brightly on the defensive end. Breakdowns have been few and far between while clamps have been applied to the opponent’s best.

Patrick Williams was stymied into a 6-20 shooting performance on Monday. Theo Maledon struggled mightily on Wednesday with just two made buckets in 11 tries and five turnovers. Tonight, Mobley had only eight points on 4-11 shooting, adding three turnovers and getting clearly out-hustled by Murphy for a loose ball.

Three games in, Willie Green sits undefeated as the head coach. That matters little in the grand scheme of things, but this exhibition session is quickly revealing that there’s real talent on this Pelicans squad — which could be of great assistance to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram soon.

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