Pelicans fall flat to Hornets

Advocate file photo by MATTHEW HINTON Pelicans guard Russ Smith shoots during drills at the team's practice facility in Metairie on July 10, Smith scored 19 points in the Pelicans' 104-75 loss to the Charlotte Hornets in summer league action Thursday in Las Vegas..
Advocate file photo by MATTHEW HINTON Pelicans guard Russ Smith shoots during drills at the team's practice facility in Metairie on July 10, Smith scored 19 points in the Pelicans' 104-75 loss to the Charlotte Hornets in summer league action Thursday in Las Vegas..

LAS VEGAS — It’s a tired, generations-old basketball adage that nonetheless rings true from time to time: “Sometimes, you just don’t have it.”

The Pelicans didn’t have it Thursday, while the Charlotte Hornets had “it” in spades, blowing out the Pelicans 104-75 in a summer league game .

The Hornets jumped out to a 34-16 lead in the first quarter, and never looked back. PJ Hairston in particular plagued the Pelicans, scoring 21 points on the night — 10 in that decisive first quarter.

Cody Zeller gave the Pelicans fits as well, beating the big men on the boards and on the break on his way to a 16-point, seven-rebound performance. For the game, the Hornets shot 50 percent from the floor and 60 percent beyond the arc.

The Pelicans’ numbers weren’t necessarily awful, as they shot 44 percent from the field for the game, they just couldn’t do anything to cool down the scorching hot Hornets.

Russ Smith seems to have a found a groove, scoring 19 points, 14 of which came in the first half. Smith was more focused on getting his own shot than setting up others in the first half, though not in a selfish manner. Simply put, no one could score for the Pelicans, so Smith took it upon himself to try to get something going.

Courtney Fells did his best to help Smith, continuing his hot streak by scoring 19 points of his own, three of which came from beyond the arc. Fells has been the Pelicans’ most consistent player on offense in Las Vegas, and Thursday’s game did nothing to change that. He can get tunnel vision, especially when he’s as hot offensively as he is now, but in a game in which offense was scarce, you’ll live with it, especially since he was still an efficient 8-of-15 from the field.

It seems as if every game, one Pelican turns in a breakout performance. Thursday, it was Abdul Gaddy’s turn. Coming into this game, Gaddy had been steady, if unremarkable, running the show as the backup point guard.

Against the Hornets, Gaddy was as aggressive as he’s been all summer in terms of looking for his own offense. He scored 14 points, hitting 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Gaddy’s shown the ability to play relatively mistake-free basketball, but this was the first time he’s shown his scoring ability.

Unfortunately, it was not Jeff Withey’s best day. Withey struggled against Jeff Ayres’ strength when the Pelicans played the Spurs, but Thursday, Withey struggled with Cody Zeller’s length and athleticism. Zeller, a 7-footer that runs the floor like a guard, easily beat Withey down the floor on the break.

Patric Young played perhaps his worst game of summer league. Young, who recently signed a contract with the Pelicans, tallied zero points and only three rebounds. The energy was there, but the production wasn’t.

The Pelicans loss means they advance to the consolation round, where they’ll face the Minnesota Timberwolves at 4 p.m. CDT Friday.