LAS VEGAS – The two New Orleans players who spent the most time on the floor in real NBA games last season both flourished Friday in the opener of summer league, including scoring timely fourth-quarter buckets to give the Pelicans a late four-point lead. It wasn’t enough to prevail, however, as Toronto reeled off seven points in the final minute to overcome a 93-89 deficit.
One-year NBA veterans Cheick Diallo and Quinn Cook paced New Orleans with a combined 43 points on 18/31 shooting, staking the Pelicans to a lead for much of the afternoon Friday. Toronto went ahead with 4 seconds left, on a Fred VanVleet driving layup that turned into a three-point play.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
New Orleans’ Jalen Jones lofted a deep three-point attempt from the left wing that only got a piece of the backboard beneath the rim. The Raptors collected the rebound and dribbled out the final second or so, wrapping up a comeback win.
New Orleans seemed to be in control for much of the first half, eventually building a seven-point lead at intermission behind a whopping 57-point eruption (summer league halves are four minutes shorter than regulation games). But Toronto turned around the momentum after falling behind by as many as 11, outscoring New Orleans 21-16 in the third period.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Diallo appears ready to take another step in his development, entering Year 2 for him in the NBA. The second-round draft pick from 2016 finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, going 11/18 from the field. The 20-year-old Kansas product piled up 19 points in the first half alone, scoring repeatedly around the rim after opening the game with a pair of two-point jumpers. Cook added 16 points and three steals.
ONLY IN SUMMER LEAGUE
When Toronto’s Troy Caupain made a 30-footer to end the first quarter, it held more significance than it normally would in any other game. In the summer league’s much-needed tiebreakers to seed the 24 teams following pool play, quarters won is the first tiebreaking step. Caupain’s trey allowed the Raptors to even the score at 23 through a period, splitting the quarter won between Toronto and New Orleans. For the game, the Raptors earned 2.5 quarters won, while the Pelicans notched 1.5.
QUOTES TO NOTE
“Twenty-seven and 10, that’s pretty good for playing against matchups that are roster guys on the opposite (team).” – Pelicans summer head coach Jamelle McMillan on Diallo’s performance, some of which came while matched up against Toronto 2016 lottery pick Jakob Poeltl
“Last year, I was just playing basketball. But this year, I’m so much more mature now and so I know exactly what I’m doing and what my team needs from me next season.” – Diallo on his improvement in the mental aspect of the game
“In the first 35 minutes, I thought we limited turnovers. I know that was what Coach Jamelle wanted to emphasize. We made some turnovers at the end, but I thought we executed well.” – Cook on the Pelicans’ offense, which finished with only 11 turnovers, but had a couple key late miscues