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Red Hot Hornets Take Down the Pelicans »
Game On: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Charlotte Hornets
This is the game we have all been waiting for folks! The Pelicans against the Hornets in a game that, once and for all, will end the confusion amongst the national media. Right? Right?!?!
The Hornets were terrible in the first three games of Summer League, but destiny reared its head, and got us the matchup that we all wanted, as they upset the Dallas Mavericks. Charlotte is led by lottery picks Cody Zeller and Noh Vonleh up front, and 2014 first-round pick PJ Hairston on the wing. Prior to yesterday’s game against Dallas, they hard a tough time scoring, averaging just 65 points per game on 32% shooting. But they got hot in the first half yesterday and Dallas was uncharacteristically off, as Ricky Ledo went just 2-18.
So, thank you fate. Hopefully every eyeball in the national media will be focused on this game, and we will never have to hear New Orleans Hornets or Charlotte Pelicans or New Orleans Hornicans or whatever again. Win or lose, the confusion will be no more, and that’s all we can ask for.
Other Notes and Observations
– We all need to thank Roberto Nelson for this matchup. With the Hornets down two, Nelson went the length of the court and drilled a three at the buzzer to give the Hornets a one point win.
– Cody Zeller has had a strange attitude as he approached Summer League, and Hornets brass and the coaching staff is not happy about it.
– A reminder of the strange altercation PJ Hairston got into.
– A win today would send the Pelicans to the Quarterfinals, which would take place Saturday – likely against the Knicks. It would be the first time Russ Smith and Tim Hardaway, Jr. matched up since the 2013 NCAA Championship game. A loss puts the Pelicans in the Consolation Bracket, which would be played tomorrow afternoon.
– Courtney Fells and DeQuan Jones have been two of the best per minute scorers in Summer League, trailing only TJ Warren and Tim Hardaway, Jr. Russ Smith is leading the Summer League in assists by a wide margin. Patric Young is leading the Pelicans in rebounds, with 8.0 a game. Today should be a good matchup, as Noah Vonleh is pulling down 9.8 per game. Josh Davis of the Hornets is third in the Summer League, pulling down 10.5 per game.
– Of course, the jinx of McNamara is still alive in Summer League. The Mavericks seemed like a lock going into yesterday’s game, so I wrote the preview in the morning to get it out of the way. (Below). Of course, with the Hornets up 15, I started writing this preview. When I was done, the Mavericks were up 2 with 7 seconds left, so I changed the title back to Mavericks. Then, Nelson hit the three. Alive and well.
The Pelicans made the second round of the playoffs! Okay, it is the Summer League playoffs/tournament, and they had a bye, but still. The reward for their 2-1 record is a match-up against perhaps the most physical team in Summer League. The Mavericks feature former Air Force security forces specialist Bernard James at center, and notorious NBA tough man Ivan Johnson at Power Forward. In addition, they have quite a few capable shooters that are capable of lighting up the scoreboard in Ricky Ledo, Gal Mekel, CJ Fair, and Chris Goulding.
The Pelicans front line will be up for the challenge, as Patric Young and Arinze Onuaku might be the only two guys in the Summer League as physical as James and Johnson, while Withey is the most skilled of all the bigs in this game. It will likely come down to three-balls and free throws – which the Pelicans could not hit in their last game, going 10-25 from the charity stripe.
Russ Smith vs. Ricky Ledo should be fantastic, as both can score, but Smith holds the edge as a playmaker and defender. Smith is leading the Summer League in assists, at 7.7 per game, and in order for the Pelicans to win this game and move on to face (in all likelihood) New York in the quarterfinals, Smith is going to have to continue to get his teammates involved. If he can do that and limit Ledo’s opportunities, the Pelicans could get the sour taste of the Spurs loss out of their mouths.