After a slow start Russ Smith scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and found Josh Carter for a game winning three-pointer with just 3 seconds left to complete a 21-2 run for the New Orleans Pelicans as they defeated the D-League Select team 83-81. Early on the Pelicans struggled to generate offense as Smith adapted to professional length but he eventually found his footing in the second half and the Pelicans came alive as a result. Josh Howard also had a nice game offensively for the Pelicans, finishing with 14 points on 4-6 shooting for the night.
Some other observations:
- Jeff Withey struggled on offense as he was asked to score from the block and after receiving passes higher on the floor out of the pick-and-roll than normal but he was very good on the other end of the floor. Withey finished with just three blocks but he altered many more shots and came up with some massive defensive plays late to give the Pelicans a chance to complete the comeback.
- Patric Young deserves a spot on an NBA roster next season. It remains to be seen if it will be with the Pelicans who have a fairly full big man rotation but he clearly belongs. Young finished with 13 rebounds and dominated inside the paint in the third quarter. He also was very vocal on defense in the game which was a nice sign from an undrafted rookie. He will have a long career as a third or fourth big man.
- Josh Howard looked good on offense but he really struggled on defense which could make sticking in the NBA tough. Howard picked up four fouls in the first half as he struggled moving laterally because of his lack of quickness. Still if he works through that he clearly still has the offensive skills to have a shot.
- Russ Smith was terrific in the second half after a miserable first half. The resiliency is very nice to see but he also made some actually adjustments to his game which was a nice sign. After struggling to shoot in the first half Smith found his way into the paint in the second half and pulled out some very tricky finishes around the rim to negate the length of the D-League Select squad. He also made some really nice passes late in the game to find open shooters after getting inside.
- Speaking of passes the assist on the game winning three was a thing of beauty. Smith knew exactly where his shooter was going to be, drew a crowd to him and fired off a perfectly on target over the shoulder pass. It wasn’t easy but he made it look that way.
- Abdul Gaddy’s line was very blah but it is a perfect example of don’t scout the Summer League stat line. I thought he played well, staying in complete control at all times and never forcing things.
- James Southerland wasn’t all that impressive. He wasn’t awful but there was nothing he did that showed me any flashes that he was an NBA player. He still has time to fix that but it wasn’t a great start for a guy trying to make the roster.
The Pelicans return to action Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Lakers at 3:30 pm CT.
Tags: New Orleans Pelicans