Spurs advance to Quarterfinals
LAS VEGAS – Aside from the individual excellence of Quinn Cook and Cheick Diallo, perhaps the biggest theme of 2017 summer league for the Pelicans will be missed opportunities. New Orleans lost twice in pool play by two points, then couldn’t hold on to a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead Thursday. As a result, the Pelicans were eliminated from the single-elimination tourney. New Orleans will wrap up its stay in Nevada on Friday with a consolation game (7 p.m. Central, opponent to be determined).
New Orleans (1-4) held a 72-62 edge at the midpoint of Thursday’s final quarter and was up 76-72 after a Jalen Jones three-pointer with 2:21 left, but San Antonio went on a 14-8 run from there to prevail. In the final 62 seconds, Vegas league leading scorer Bryn Forbes dropped in six points, turning a tie into an 84-81 Spurs lead. New Orleans committed a turnover while trying to move the ball into position for a potential game-tying three-pointer.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
San Antonio rookie Derrick White sank a pair of free throws with 4 seconds left, giving the Spurs a two-possession advantage at 86-81. Cook banked in a deep three-pointer at the buzzer, but the shot was later disallowed, not that it would’ve impacted the outcome.
With control of the outcome and a bid in the weekend’s quarterfinal round seemingly within their grasp, the Pelicans’ offense went cold for a chunk of the fourth period. New Orleans took some difficult shots and started relying on jumpers, helping allow San Antonio to make a final push.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jones contributed in a variety of categories, finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds, a pair of assists and a steal in his 23 minutes of action. The Texas A&M product and G-League player has often been the Pelicans’ third-most effective player in Las Vegas, moving into the starting lineup for both tournament games. He tallied eight of New Orleans’ 16 fourth-quarter points Thursday.
QUOTES TO NOTE
“For the most part, we were able to control the game. Unfortunately late, we came up short. I cannot fault these guys at all for their effort all week long.” – Pelicans summer head coach Jamelle McMillan on the defeat
“They made plays at the end of the game. We had a chance to win, but all credit to those guys.” – Cook on the Spurs’ comeback in the fourth quarter
“We went on good runs, but in different stretches of the game, momentum changed and there were big plays.” – Pelicans center Keith Benson (13 points, 8 rebounds off the bench) on the loss