by RENALDO DORSETT
It was far from the debut he expected, but Buddy Hield remains confident in his adjustment to what he calls the “Rookie Learning Curve.”
Hield finished with four points and three assists in the New Orleans Pelicans’ 107-102 Loss to the Denver Nuggets last night at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“It was OK, just steady nothing too exciting, nothing too flashy, I had some good opportunities I just have to finish those opportunities. I just have to learn from every mistake I make, have to watch a lot of film, just have to do a better job and be better. I’ll watch the film, see what we did wrong and just learn from it for next game,” Hield said following the game, “All I can do is watch film, get used to the game. Whenever coach calls my number I get the opportunity I just have to make the most of it.”
Hield came off the bench and in just under 17 minutes, shot 2-8 from the field and 0-3 from three point range.
“I’m still adjusting, I haven’t come off the bench in a while since early at Oklahoma. I’m getting used to the feel but I’ll be fine though. Rookie learning curve, I’ll get through it,” he said.
Jusuf Nurkic led the Nuggets with 23 points and nine rebounds, Will Barton added 22 points, Danilo Galinari scored 15 and Wilson Chandler added 12 to help Denver overcome a historic performance from Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis.
Davis finished with 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocked shots to lead New Orleans.
Tim Frazier added a double double, 15 points and 11 assists, E’Twaun Moore scored 10 and Lance Stephenson added eight off the bench.
Denver led comfortably throughout and by as much as nine when scored five points on a 9-2 run that made 60-46 late in the first half.
Despite a late surge by the Pelicans where they came within three, the Nuggets were able to withstand the run by timely defensive plays and making 7-8 free throws down the stretch.
Hield checked in for the first time at the 6:13 mark in the first quarter after Moore picked up two early fouls.
On his first touch, in a pick and roll situation, he missed a floater coming off a screen as defenders keyed on Davis.
Hield began the game 0-3 start before his first make, a driving layup, again off the pick and roll for his first score.
Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry called the loss disappointing but not one that would have a lasting impact on the team.
“It’s the first game you play. That’s the only thing about it. Somewhere along the line you’re going to play a forty-one home games and forty one on the road. I think the excitement is for a guy like Buddy [Hield] who is a rookie. His first game in the NBA and first regular season game in the NBA,” he said, “I don’t read anything into this game at all for the long term. Anthony’s not going to average 50 and 16, I can pretty much guarantee you that. Buddy’s not going to go 1-7 every game. It was one game and he’ll be fine, I’m not worried about Buddy.”
The Pelicans focus now shifts to Friday night when they face the defending Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors at home in the Smoothie King Center.