Pelicans advance to semifinals vs. Grizzlies
LAS VEGAS – Miami’s Duncan Robinson had already scored a team-best 26 points, so there was a good chance the sharpshooting Heat guard might be involved with Saturday’s game hanging in the balance and 1.3 seconds left in overtime. Didi Louzada seemed to realize that, stepping in front of a pass intended for Robinson, sealing New Orleans’ dramatic one-point victory. The Brazil native scored a modest five points in the opening round of an eight-team tournament, but still made the biggest play of the afternoon.
Over the previous 41:59 of action, No. 17 overall draft pick Nickeil Alexander-Walker continued to build a strong case to be in the summer league MVP conversation, racking up 34 points, including many when the Pelicans needed them badly in the fourth period. He also notched five rebounds, five assists and four steals, while going 11 of 14 from the foul line.
“He’s just the guard you need,” said Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes, the eighth overall pick of the same draft. “You need guards who can be clutch for you. When the game is close and in overtime, you need someone to go score for you.”
“He was huge for us,” forward Kenrich Williams said. “To have a guy like that, just to put the ball in his hands and make plays for himself and other guys, is huge. He was big tonight.”
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Louzada intercepted a Miami pass from the right sideline into the backcourt, causing the final 1.3 seconds to expire with New Orleans leading by a point. In a seesaw affair, the Pelicans led by as many as 14 points early, before the Heat gained a seven-point lead in the fourth period. New Orleans later was up six in the final minute, but Miami drained a three-pointer, then took advantage of a Louzada offensive foul and free throws to force overtime.
“You can’t really get too high or too low,” Alexander-Walker said of the back-and-forth nature of Saturday’s game. “You have to play the whole game out, until the buzzer. You never know how 30 seconds can play out. It can literally turn into an eternity. We stayed together through everything. There were calls we didn’t agree with that we didn’t let affect our next play, and that helped.”
PELICANS PLAYER UPDATES
Williams (17 points, 8/13 shooting) was NOLA’s second-leading scorer and continued to show increased aggressiveness in summer league, one of his goals offensively. “I just took what was open for me,” the TCU product said. “Just saw some lanes where I can attack. It opened up the game for us, not just for me but for everybody. It was big.” …
Hayes notched a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, including a whopping nine offensive boards. He was not a great rebounder statistically in his college season at Texas, but has been very active going after teammate misses for tip-ins and follow-up dunks. …
Central Florida product Aubrey Dawkins canned some key shots for New Orleans, going 3/5 from three-point range. The son of former NBA guard and Duke standout Johnny Dawkins tallied 11 points in just 11 minutes of action.