NBA Summer League Tournament First Round: Pelicans 105, Hawks 95

Pelicans advance to Round of 16

LAS VEGAS – New Orleans didn’t play like a team seeded lowest in a 24-team field. Seeking their first win in the desert, the Pelicans posted a resounding victory against a team it had just lost to on the weekend, rolling past the ninth-seeded Hawks behind an offensive explosion. New Orleans shot 55.4 percent from the field and went 9/20 on treys.

New Orleans advanced to a Thursday matchup against eighth-seeded San Antonio.

IT WAS OVER WHEN…

Up by 11, New Orleans missed a shot in the lane but grabbed a long rebound, bleeding extra time off the clock. Axel Toupane then swished a corner three-pointer for a 100-86 lead with about 1:25 remaining.

TURNING POINT

After being outscored by two in the first quarter, New Orleans racked up 33 second-quarter points, building a 57-43 edge at halftime.

PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME

Quinn Cook sank his first seven shots from the field Wednesday and was spectacular during a 26-point, five-rebound, seven-assist outing. Cook has been one of the league’s most impressive scorers, given that he’s putting up 20-plus points regularly without taking a ton of shots. This time, the Duke product was 11/16 from the field, increasing his four-game tally in that department to 37/61 (60.7 percent), outstanding efficiency from a point guard. It’s not like he’s gotten a slew of easy hoops, either – most of his work has come from mid-range or on deeper two-point jumpers.

ONLY IN SUMMER LEAGUE

On paper, entering the Vegas tournament as a 24 seed seems like a pretty daunting situation, but the Pelicans’ status was slightly misleading because two of their losses in pool play were by two points apiece. Several players have remarked that the summer squad could easily be 3-1 right now, instead of 1-3. New Orleans demonstrated that it may be a better team that its seeding indicated by winning handily against Atlanta. Incidentally, last summer the Vegas tourney’s No. 24 seed (Minnesota) advanced all the way to the championship game, before losing on a buzzer-beater to Chicago.

QUOTES TO NOTE

“It was just me believing in myself. I put a lot of work in and I was taking good shots. Fortunately, the ball has been going in.” – Cook on his shooting effectiveness; he appeared to be in a zone from the get-go Wednesday while repeatedly canning jumpers

“Jalen is a gritty guy. He gets after it, plays really hard, can space the floor for us. He made some big-time plays for us, both on offense and defense. His defensive energy definitely lifted the team.” – McMillan on first-time starter Jalen Jones, who provided a needed third scoring threat with 21 points, including 11/11 foul shooting. Jones also grabbed six rebounds

“That’s just my strength, getting to the basket. Coach told me he wanted me to stay aggressive and give great minutes out there, a lot of energy. I’m just glad we came out with the win.” – Jones on his performance

“I work on everything, (including) making my handle tighter. But my main focus this year is to tighten my defense a lot.” – Cheick Diallo (21 points, 8 rebounds, 7/9 from the field) on his progress

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