Russ Smith and the New Orleans Pelicans Complete a Thrilling Comeback

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Published: July 12, 2014

I get it – It’s “just” Summer League, but man was that exciting! For most of the game, those of us who watched it were forced to sit through some of the most painful offense we have witnessed since the Dan Dickau era (Sorry Schwanny), but the 4th quarter made it all worthwhile. Trailing by 17, with just about 4 minutes left, the Pelicans went on a #Russdiculous 21-2 run, led by Mr. Smith himself and won 83-81. They picked up the defensive intensity and starting draining the same shots that they had been missing all night, and as a result, all 27 people in attendance left stunned by what they had just seen.

After a brutal 1st half that saw Russ Smith start 1-7, with numerous turnovers, he calmed down and was able to finish the game with 20 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. After the game, Smith said that the spacing threw him off in the first half because the three-point line was further out and when he blew by his man in college he was basically already at the tim, but here he was in no man’s land (the mid-range area). Smith said he adjusted at halftime, and it showed as he came out with a new swagger and confidence that helped erase a large deficit.

But the Pelicans probably wouldn’t have even been in the game if not for the efforts of Patric Young. The University of Florida star was a monster down low, grabbing 13 rebounds in just 19 minutes of play while also adding 11 points. Jeff Withey was good defensively and Josh Howard was extremely efficient with 14 points on just 6 shots. But this game was all about the spectacular fourth quarter effort by Russ Smith and his ability to will his team to victory.

Notes and Observations

– First, let’s start with how I view Summer League. I don’t care as much about production as I do about skill sets and intangibles. Those are the things I want to see because those are the things that transfer over. Josh Selby has the greatest Summer League PER of all-time, so again, production is not my top priority.

– Being as honest as possible, Russ Smith was terrible in the first half. Not mediocre or bad, but terrible. But what he said makes sense, and if he really adjusted that quickly, then this guy can be a special reserve down the line. A lot of guys would have gotten down on themselves and given up after that first half. He just saw a problem, solved it and won the game.

– Smith dribbled way too high early on for my taste, but he controlled that later in the game. The thing I was most intrigued by was his wide assortment of passes. He makes passes from multiple angles, similar to a (dar I say it?) Drew Brees. He just finds a way to get the ball where it needs to go. He threw skip passes and wrap arounds and clever bounce passes, and standard passes as well. A really fun guy to watch, especially when he goes to finish. An assortment of layups as well.

– The coaching staff wants to make Jeff Withey a big part of this Summer League offense, but he just lacks the skill down low to be a go-to option. He was much better off later on cleaning up the garbage, and honestly, that is what he would do for our team, so that is enough for me.

– The commentators could not stop raving about Patric Young, and I don’t blame them. He just does things the right way, and that isn’t normal for a rookie. Little things. Like, he was our best screen setter tonight. He also talked the most on the defensive end. And he was our best off-ball defender as well. He is limited, yes, but what he does well, he does really well.

– Of the guys outside of the main three, I can’t say that I see one who stood out tonight in a way that makes me think he has a shot at making the final roster. There were moments from several of the wing players, but never did I think I was looking at an NBA player when I was watching them. And same goes for the Select Team, save for a couple of bright moments for Tony Mitchell.

– Next game is Sunday against the Lakers. 2-0?

32 Comments

  1. Pelican Poster

    July 12, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Hurray for the Pels and again one of the most exciting finishes I can remember to ANY GAME I’ve seen from them!

  2. BigBLDavis

    July 12, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Was happy to see Russ recover after that 1st half.  You’re right nothing else really stood out this game, but it is summer league.  I enjoyed watching Patric Young, and after seeing him dominate I was convinced that we told Philly we want Russ so we wouldn’t tip our hand.  I think Young might have been higher on the board….

  3. 504ever

    July 12, 2014 at 12:33 am

    I knew it was you on the BBS twitter account.  Where have you been?

  4. Butchful

    July 12, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Russdiculous could be very entertaining for the Pels this summer league and as an energy PG on our second unit.  If Patric Young can channel his inner Ben Wallace(without the afro) we could have two solid young contributors this coming season.  I still have a belief that Dell-Monty can pull off a few more moves in getting us a SF during NBA free agency/trade season.

  5. Pelican Poster

    July 12, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Butchful The Gee trade is hoped to fit the bill of fitting Asik and hopefully maintaining those exceptions I hear these smarter guys talking about…mid-level, and something else?

  6. Butchful

    July 12, 2014 at 12:41 am

    To say they worked out the Gee trade to satisfy the Asik deal was impressive.  No current players sacrificed or having to be traded to HOU just draft picks for a team that’s already young.  A little veteran leadership at key positions wouldn’t hurt in upcoming deals.

  7. Pelican Poster

    July 12, 2014 at 12:44 am

    Butchful I totally agree…and yet Dell is getting slammed in the TP reader comments…ashame

  8. bpec12

    July 12, 2014 at 2:29 am

    Nice recap Mac. With Patric Young, we have first opportunity to sign him?

  9. yaboytonez

    July 12, 2014 at 4:28 am

    Really makes me think Rivers should have stayed in school. Russ Smith benifited from it. He’s smart. Lillard is further proof that 3-4 year college stints make for a better product NBA products.

  10. Michael McNamara

    July 12, 2014 at 7:42 am

    bpec12 If we want him, he will be on our roster. And, after seeing his effort and intelligence, I couldn’t see us not wanting to add him to our roster. Walking into the 2014 draft with Pierre Jackson and walking out with Russ Smith and Patric Young was just another one of Dell’s small moves that should be universally applauded. And it will be down the road.

  11. jmbell7

    July 12, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Eh. That’s a blanket statement, and one I don’t really agree with. For every Lillard there’s a Westbrook, Wall, Rose, Holiday, Irving.

  12. Michael McNamara

    July 12, 2014 at 7:45 am

    yaboytonez He would be going into his senior year right now. Let’s see how good he is in 2015-16. Maybe his 3 years in the NBA will mold him in a similar way. Got way better last summer. If he does the same this summer and next, how good can he be?

  13. jmbell7

    July 12, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Dare I say it: Ben Wallace 2.0? Considered “undersized”, but both are athletic freaks. Defensive leaders, limited offensive skills. Oh and they both went undrafted.

  14. yaboytonez

    July 12, 2014 at 7:59 am

    I haven’t given up on him. He has slowly improved. I would just rather he learned under a great coach who gave him minutes to learn the game instead of a decent coach who’s trying to win so he doesn’t get to start.

  15. jmbell7

    July 12, 2014 at 8:04 am

    They both seem like Dell and Monty’s type of guys. Hopefully we hold on to them.

  16. 504ever

    July 12, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Not touching this one MM?

  17. KPKeeley

    July 12, 2014 at 8:53 am

    One of the goals for Patric Young was to lead the Summer League in rebounding. Grabbing 13 boards is a good start, I’d say. I’m really excited about Patric Young; I hope he makes the team.

  18. bradlaborde

    July 12, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Patric “Dirty Jobs” Young stood out to me.  I liked his positioning for rebounds.  Along with the finish from Russ.

    When people started saying Withey would be the focal point for the summer league sirens went off in my head.  He isn’t that kind of player.  He did have some key blocks down the stretch.

    I’m not sure what it means for the Pels if Howard makes the final roster.  Yikes.

  19. Zed84

    July 12, 2014 at 9:50 am

    RS9 is the real deal what a steal and even Young was impressive

  20. Cubancaniac

    July 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I thought Tony mitchell and ebanks had some potential

  21. lsutigers33

    July 12, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Young will make roster and get minutes. He is to solid of a player. Played on great unselfish teams but the nba will allow him to be that bech player to be a 8 pt 8’reb guy as a backup.
    Wish we could find a way to get KORVER for EG. Pair him with josh Howard at SF and sign morrow to play SG and I think we compete.

  22. lsutigers33

    July 12, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Mitchell is talented

  23. Zed84

    July 12, 2014 at 11:28 am

    lsutigers33 I was thinking that yeasterday

  24. TristanBisnezzWilliams

    July 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Would love to see this team with austin and darius miller. We would be the toughest team to beat in veags

  25. yaboytonez

    July 12, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Those players aren’t comparable to Rivers prior to the NBA. They were clearly superior athletes. Austin was not in any considered an elite athlete.

  26. Pelican Poster

    July 12, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Michael McNamara yaboytonez I think he will continue to show progression, he certainly has the will power and drive to do so.  The one thing I took away from his improvement last year was to see him hit the short pullup jumpers off the dribble in the last few games.  That was very encouraging and I think his set shot improved a lot as well.  I know it had to given his first year’s issues, but the kid probably got thrown in too soon to justify his high pick status.  I like that he is a fighter, tries to play hard defense, and has a great first step to the rim.

  27. Pelican Poster

    July 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    jmbell7 I’d say with better offensive ability…not great mind you, but better than Wallace was on that side for sure…actually shows nice touch on his jump hook with either hand

  28. Pelican Poster

    July 12, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Cubancaniac I thought those guys stood out as well….SFs?

  29. Pelican Poster

    July 12, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    lsutigers33 Too bad Morrow a gone pecan 🙁

  30. jaygeorge

    July 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I’m from louisville, russ is a hell of a player! U have to live with his mistakes,, bottom line is he a balla. He will be the steal of the draft. No one can stop his penetration,, also has unbelievable range. Pit bull on defense,, ask Napier! He dominated every guard taken ahead of him. U heard it here first.

  31. jaygeorge

    July 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Same ole russ, I’m front louaville, he been doin dat for Eva. Buckets mammy. Steal of draft. Mark my word

  32. jmbell7

    July 13, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I also don’t buy that players profess better in college than the pros. In the NBA, you have personal trainers, cooks, year round workouts, complete dedication to your trade, better coaches, and more one on one training. What does college offer that the pros can’t? The only advantage that college has is that it is a more controlled environment for immature players (like Demarcus Cousins), but Austin Rivers has never had issues like Cousins. So I fail to see how college would help him develop more than the NBA can.

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