Roberts jumper seals NOLA win over Cavs
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
New Orleans Pelicans point guard Brian Roberts isn’t known for his flashy play, preferring to rely on a fundamentally-sound perimeter shot and an old-school floor game. With his team needing a basket in crunch time Monday, however, Roberts drew numerous oohs and ahs from the Cox Pavilion grandstands, with a nasty shake-and-bake crossover move that freed him for a wide-open jumper. Even better, the shot found the bottom of the net, giving New Orleans a 66-62 lead over Cleveland with 7 seconds remaining. That four-point margin held up as the final score, as the Pelicans improved to 2-1 in NBA Summer League.
“I didn’t shoot well throughout the game, but I made the one that kind of clinched it for us,” said Roberts, who was just 5-for-15 from the field for 11 points. “That was big. I try to keep it simple and run a team, but I do have a little bit of (crowd-pleasing) stuff like that in my game.”
After a tough loss Sunday vs. Milwaukee, New Orleans bounced back to prevail in a seesaw game. The Pelicans grabbed a quick double-digit lead, but the Cavaliers won the third quarter 14-7 to pull even. Roberts scored six of his points in the fourth quarter, helping the Pelicans win the period 17-13.
All four New Orleans players who logged significant minutes during the 2012-13 NBA regular season contributed double-digit scoring Monday, headed by Lance Thomas’ 14 points. Austin Rivers notched 13 points, including back-to-back driving layups that put the Pelicans in front 64-60 late. Darius Miller connected on a pair of three-pointers and tallied 11 points.
Thomas also had 10 rebounds, giving the two-year NBA veteran the team's lone double-double. He was perfect in five attempts from the field. Recently waived by New Orleans, Thomas rejoined the summer team on the weekend. Although it’s a unique situation, the Duke product said the scenario changes nothing about his approach on the court.
“Every year I’ve been in the league, I’ve been battling for a roster spot,” Thomas said. “Just because my contract was up (doesn’t matter). I was going to have to go through trying to make the team regardless. But I love playing with these guys – Brian, Austin and Darius. I want to have fun and make the most of having this opportunity to play.”
The Pelicans will have at least two more games over the next few days in Las Vegas, with the hopes of adding to that number. With a 2-1 record in the preliminary round, New Orleans likely will be a top-10 seed in the 22-team tournament portion of summer league. If the Pelicans are in that top 10, they will get a first-round bye and won’t play until Thursday. If not, they will play on Wednesday. If New Orleans reaches the quarterfinal round, it will extend its stay through at least Saturday.
The 22 teams in Las Vegas will not know the full picture for the tournament bracket until all games are completed Tuesday evening.