LAS VEGAS – If Buddy Hield was bothered, he was hiding it pretty well.
The Pelicans rookie wore a smile to meet the media late Friday night, and a hat that read "Dope," though his NBA Summer League debut had been anything but.
Hield scored 13 points in his first taste of the NBA. He made 5 of 20 shots, including 1 of 8 3-pointers. He grabbed six rebounds, dished out two assists and had four turnovers in New Orleans' 85-65 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
"This is a bad first start, bad first impression for everybody to see me, but it is what it is," Hield said. "Stuff like this motivates me each and every day to drive me to be the best… ."
On Friday he mostly was at his worst, by his own admission.
Hield was hurried, rushing to get off shots in a game he admitted was "a lot faster than I thought it would be." He also was harried by a Lakers defense that mostly tried to crowd him at the 3-point line and force him to put the ball on the floor.
He did that with mixed success, often struggling to get by a defender, but sometimes penetrating into the lane for passes that typically didn't lead to assists as the Pelicans shot 32.9 percent as a team.
"That's something he wants to work on," said Pelicans assistant Robert Pack, the team's Summer League head coach. "We've even talked about it. It's a good test for him. It's a good example of the way people will probably play him because he can shoot so well. That's something that he'll put the effort, get in the gym, we'll work on it, and he'll be better."
There was to be no panic-button-pushing after one bad Summer League outing. Earlier in the day, New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry said "I'm not going to get overly excited if he gets 30 tonight and I'm not going to get overly excited if he goes 3 for 17, either."
And Hield said he was "not worrying at all" about his shot after a game in which he was happy with his defense.
"Offense is going to come," Hield said. "I'm going to get better each and every day. Offense is what I do."
Though Hield had an off night, there were strong signs from fellow rookie Cheick Diallo, whose offense was bolstered by three garbage-time buckets, but who finished with 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting, seven rebounds and three blocks in 27 minutes, more than he played in any game during his freshman season at Kansas.
For much of that time he was matched against bigger, longer players, including the Lakers' 7-1 Ivica Zubac.
"It was good for him," Pack said. "He was in there battling. Those guys were a lot bigger than him, but he battled. And as the game went on, he found a way to be able to use his size and his quickness against those guys."
Diallo is a work in progress, but he's progressing. Hield, too, has plenty of room for growth, and with an off day between games, he intended to get to work on Saturday watching film and getting up "a ton of shots."
"It's my first time playing in an NBA game, and it's Summer League. It's not even the big leagues yet," Hield said. "I'm still learning and getting better at it. Hopefully, I know next game I'm going to go out there and improve a lot, improve a ton and be more patient offensively and defensively."