The Pelicans are hunting for a point guard, but Quinn Cook keeps making statements in a New Orleans uniform.
His latest salvo came in Thursday’s 86-84 Las Vegas summer league loss to the San Antonio Spurs: Cook chipped in 19 points, converted 7 of 18 field-goal attempts and once again ran the offense.
But in the fourth quarter, he couldn’t get anything to fall. He missed seven consecutive shots and committed three turnovers as the Pelicans’ hopes of a summer league championship petered out.
It was the latest gut punch for the summer Pelicans, who suffered three losses by four points or fewer this week. Cook committed crucial turnovers in the final minute of all of them.
The New Orleans Pelicans aren’t done building their backcourt.
They were rare stumbles for Cook, who until the fourth quarter was one of the best performers in Las Vegas gyms. He entered Thursday ranked fifth in scoring (21.8 points per game) and shot the highest percentage (60.7) of any player who attempted more than 50 shots.
Over and over, with the exception of one quarter, Cook showed coach Alvin Gentry he’s capable of not only earning a spot on the Pelicans roster, but that he can also be relied on for legitimate minutes off the bench, regardless of whom the starting point guard turns out to be.
“It’s the biggest help, being able to talk to coach Gentry this whole time,” Cook said Wednesday. “He calls me over five times per quarter, and I ask him questions and he asks me questions and he has been so helpful to me since I’ve been in New Orleans. I just see myself getting better every day and ready to compete next season.”
But that’s not going to stop the Pelicans from searching for a point guard to pair with Jrue Holiday.
And while Cook’s performance was the most attention-grabbing, he didn’t operate alone.
He received plenty of help from second-year guard Jalen Jones, who blossomed during the Pelicans' last two games, chipping in a pair of 3-pointers and 15 points Thursday. He helped space the floor from the arc and delivered a critical 3 and a driving layup in the final two minutes to nearly preserve the win.
Cheick Diallo, who posted gaudy stat lines in the Pelicans’ first two games, performed steadily but wasn’t spectacular in the team’s final summer appearance. He scored 13 points on 10 shots and pulled down 13 rebounds (four offensive), notching his fourth double-double in five games.
The Pelicans' summer isn’t in the books just yet. They’ll play a consolation game Friday before heading back to New Orleans to prepare for the 2017-18 season.
“We’ve had some nice performances from several of our guys,” summer league coach Jamelle McMillan said. “I think we can carry it into the season.”