The New Orleans Pelicans hopes of a summer league championship were dashed late Friday night in Las Vegas. Needing to beat the Los Angeles Lakers by at least five points to advance to that notable game, the Pels fell 102-94.
With Daeqwon Plowden (right ankle sprain) getting added to the long inactive list, only nine players suited up, with Jared Harper, Elijah Stewart, John Petty Jr., John Butler Jr. and Tyrique Jones standing on the court at tip-off.
It was a far cry from the Dyson Daniels, Naji Marshall, Trey Murphy, E.J. Liddell and Karlo Matkovic starting lineup that kicked off New Orleans’ summer league schedule last Saturday.
Despite a lot of firepower sitting on the sidelines, the Pelicans were competitive against the Lakers. They just didn’t shoot nearly as well as their counterparts.
The first half was a game of runs, with the Lakers jumping out to an early lead. However, the Pelicans stormed back as the team hit four consecutive 3s — after missing their first six attempts — to seize a 27-19 first-quarter advantage.
The Lakers regained control on a 15-4 run to begin the second and they never trailed in the contest again. The start of the third quarter was particularly brutal as L.A.’s Cole Swider scored 11 straight points to give the Lakers a comfortable margin which they largely managed to maintain to the final buzzer.
Jared Harper led the Pelicans with 20 points. He had a fun 4-point play, but for a third game in a row, I thoroughly enjoyed watching him attack the rim and make plays for others.
Jared Harper & John Butler may have something here pic.twitter.com/7xADavDxaS— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) July 16, 2022
Although Harper hasn’t shot the ball as efficiently as anyone would like, it’s hard to complain about 41 trips to the free throw line in four games and 17 assists over the last three.
Deividas Sirvydis was instant offense off the bench again. Following up his 25-point performance from Wednesday, he scored 17 points on 10 shots versus the Lakers. Sirvydis grabbed eight rebounds and hit 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
Only Murphy and Harper have totaled more points for the Pelicans to this point of the summer league proceedings, with no one shooting better from deep (10-20 3-pointers) than Sirvydis.
Nearly as impressive from beyond the arc for the tournament, John Petty Jr. has flashed a nice stroke. After sinking a couple of free throws, he hit back-to-back 3s during the Pels first-quarter run.
Petty finished with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists.
Tyrique Jones, who really understands his role well as a paint protector, rebounder and roll man, posted a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.
John Butler Jr., in his longest Vegas stint thus far, had seven points, five rebounds and a couple of blocks in 20 minutes.
Dereon Seabron came off the bench for a second straight game and was relatively effective again, scoring nine points and dropping six dimes. He has trouble getting his shot off against the trees inside at times, but he’s excellent at finding the seams and consistently getting to the rim. He’s also shown a better than advertised passing ability.
My biggest concern about Seabron’s game though comes on the other end of the floor. He just doesn’t seem to do anything well defensively, from staying with his man to rotating to contesting an opponent’s jumper. He’s rarely in the best position, and moreover, he just looks uncomfortable.
Thanks to his athletic ability and solid displays of effort, I’m sure the Pelicans coaching staff could make inroads and clean up the defensive fundamentals, but I can’t help but wonder if Deividas Sirvydis or Daeqwon Plowden would make for better choices on a two-way contract.
Well, only one more summer league game remains for the 2-2 Pelicans on this trip. They’ll face the OKC Thunder on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. Central.