By RENALDO DORSETT
IT WAS another afternoon of growing pains for Buddy Hield at the Samsung NBA Summer League.
Hield finished with a team high 16 points but shot just 5-17 from the field and 1-7 from three- point range in the Pelicans’ 81-77 loss to the Miami Heat yesterday at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
With his team ahead 68-67 with just under six minutes left to play, Hield scored the last nine points of the game for the Pelicans.
His jumper at the 2:50 mark gave the Pelicans a 77-71 lead, but the Heat would end the game on a 10-0 run to advance in the tournament.
With the loss, the Pelicans are now slated to conclude their Summer League experience on Friday in a consolation game. The Heat will move on to the Round of 16 on Thursday and play against fifth-seeded Phoenix.
Through four Summer League games, Hield has averaged 18.3 points per game, but also shot just 34 per cent from the field and 24 percent from three-point range.
Defences have keyed in on Hield and overplaying him an effort to limit him where he has been most effective, in “catch-and-shoot” opportunities.
The scoring outbursts within a single quarter have still been apparent with a 12-point fourth quarter vs. Utah, a 17-point third-quarter against Sacramento and nine yesterday in the fourth against Miami.
Each of those three contests have also seen Hield get out to slow starts.
“Things are tight,” Pelicans summer head coach Robert Pack said of the lack of room for Hield. “(Opponents) know we’re trying to do things for him. Our bigs are not bigs that can really stretch the floor, so the paint is packed a little bit. We have to execute really well to get those shots (for Hield). In the regular season, with more players on the floor with the ability to shoot and spread the floor, it will help him a lot. (In summer league) teams are putting their hands on him, are aggressive with him and trying to rough him up.”
Hield, the sixth overall pick in the draft, headlines the Pelicans roster alongside 33rd overall pick Cheick Diallo.
“It’s growing pains I have to go through. It’s something I’m not used to. It’s something to help me get better. I’m enjoying the moment and taking every day as an opportunity to get better,” Hield said, “You come in with a label on you, and everybody wants a piece of you. You’re the sixth pick in the draft, and everybody knows you’re a scorer. So you’ve got to bring it each and every night. This is the NBA, so there are no nights off.”
Following the preliminary round, which began July 8, the Samsung NBA Summer League has re-seeded the 24 teams, which now play in a single elimination format leading to the championship on July 18.