With the Summer League Championship officially under way, the 22nd seeded Denver Nuggets held on to pull an upset over Austin Rivers and the 11th seeded New Orleans Pelicans. The final score was 87-82 at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Pelicans made a charge late to cut the deficit to 1 possession with a little over a minute left. However, with some sturdy defense late, the Nuggets were able to hold on. The Nuggets beat the Pelicans in unfamiliar manner by shooting strong behind the 3 point line. The Nuggets shot an impressive 54.5% while going 12-22 from behind the arc. This was a welcome result for the Nuggets Summer League head coach Melvin Hunt as it was the 1st victory in 4 games.
G Jordan Hamilton and F Quincy Miller lead the charge with 17 and 23 points. Quincy Miller struggled from 22 feet or closer, only going 1-5. That did not stop him from shooting 60% from the field as he was lights from behind the arc going a perfect 5-5. Hamilton was aggressive with his shot and it worked to his advantage. Hamilton wasn't quite as impressive as Miller from behind the arc, but he still made a very respectable 4/7 from the 3 point line. Hamilton would finish 8/14 from the field. If Miller and Hamilton can become consistent 3 point threats for the upcoming season, they could find themselves getting quality minutes. The Nuggets were dreadful from behind the arc last season ranking 25th out of 32 teams. In the playoffs, their issues behind the arc became more apparent and the Golden State Warriors exploited it. The Nuggets have picked up G Randy Foye this offseason to improve their 3 point shooting, but there are still concerns that there isn't enough fire power from the 3 point line.
With the victory today, the Denver Nuggets will advance to the 2nd round. Their opponent will be Toronto Raptors. There might be a little extra motivation for the Nuggets organization to win as they'll be playing against a familiar friend in GM Masai Uriji. The game will be played 4 PM MT tomorrow. If the Nuggets look to advance, they will have pull off another upset as the Raptors are the 6th seed and may have fresher legs from having a bye into the 2nd round. However, if they can limit the turnovers and shoot like their last performance, they certainly can to do it. Here's hoping they do.