Zion Williamson He left the stamp of the biggest stars in his premiere in the NBA. The 19-year-old, the one with the most expectations since LeBron James broke out in 2003, marveled in the blink of an eye, in just six and a half minutes from the last quarter. In that short interval he validated the fame that preceded him and the qualities that were valued so much when he was chosen by New Orleans in the number one of the last ‘draft’.
The peculiar and stocky power forward, 1.98 meters and 129 kilos, was a gale against the Spurs. He scored 17 of the 22 points with which he concluded in that last interval granted by his coach Alvin Gentry, who decided to dose it with short appearances in each of the rooms. Zion showed a collection of amazing resources and movements in that last stretch. His 17 points were almost consecutive. He scored the four triples he threw, captured a rebound in defense rising above Jakob Poeltl, a pivot that is 17 centimeters taller than him, and who stole another rebound in attack to score another basket. The Spurs, however, rewound and won the match (117-121).
Williamson added 22 points, with 4 of 4 in triples, 4 of 7 in two shots, 2 of 4 in free throws, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 turnovers in just 18 minutes on the court. The fortitude and apparent tranquility with which he absorbs responsibility and the enormous media pressure around him, is revealed in his words minutes before the game. “Here I am finally,” he released. “I like to play basketball. I’m going out there, have fun and compete. It’s basketball That’s what I do. It’s what I’ve done since I was four years old. ”
Williamson’s gale was unleashed when it seemed that Alvin Gentry’s decision to restrict his minutes of play was to dazzle or mute his premiere in the League. The Pelicans coach gives priority to the cautious plan drawn up by doctors and trainers. He limited his game minutes to 18. Williamson has just recovered from the right knee meniscus operation to which he was subjected on October 21, and Gentry does not want to make the slightest concession to the gallery. He relieved him after his exhibition in the last quarter when there were still five and a half minutes left. The technician’s priority was to avoid any risk to the physical state of the power forward.
That objective prevailed, even though it seemed incompatible with the second objective that was to win the match against San Antonio. He failed to beat the Spurs because Aldridge, with 32 points and 14 rebounds, and DeRozan, with 20 points, commanded the team of Gregg Popovich, who suffered at the end after having dominated by 15 points.
On January 22, 2020, it becomes a date indicated in the sports calendar. It is the day that Zion Williamson, with 19 years and 201 days and 44 games later than scheduled, premiered in the NBA, before the anxious media outlets that pointed him for months.
Gentry warned him shortly before the game: “I think everyone in the League and in the country is waiting to see him play. It will be a circus and everyone knows it. What we have to do is concentrate on our work. ” The Pelicans coach placed Williamson in the initial quintet with Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and Derrick Favors.
Zion had a hard time finding the right rhythm. It had only been four minutes, and Gentry sat him down. It was the established plan. Give it minutes, but few and in very short sections. Marked by Trey Liles first and Jakob Poeltl later, he began scoring in droppers.
In the third quarter, after being relieved after another stretch of just three minutes, Williamson staged in public that he is still in the process of recovery and began pedaling on an exercise bike in a corner of the court. But it was only the warm up for his recital in the last quarter.
The expectation to see him was enormous. He was already since the summer, since his first training with the Pelicans, which was attended by 10,000 spectators. The interest went to more after his brilliant performances in the preseason games, in which he averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 27.3 minutes, with 71.4% of success in the shot. But he suffered a meniscus injury in his right knee and had to be operated on October 21. According to forecasts, he would be between six and eight weeks off. Finally, he debuted 13 weeks and two days after being operated. During that time, the Pelicans won 17 games and lost 27. They occupy the twelfth place of the Western Conference.
Toronto added its fifth straight win, this time against the Sixers (107-95). Those of Philadelphia accuse the loss of Joel Embiid and also that of Josh Richardson, who was injured when only four minutes had passed.
Marc Gasol was infallible: 4 shots of two and 3 triples for a total of 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in 25 minutes. Serge Ibaka achieved 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Siakam added 18 points and 15 rebounds, Norman Powell, also 18 points and 8 rebounds. The Sixers had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists from Ben Simmons and their top scorer was Tobias Harris with 22 points.
The Lakers had the mission of forgetting as soon as possible the beating they received in Boston, where they fell 32 points apart, and they got it by winning in New York (92-100). Anthony Davis, with 28 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and LeBron James, with 21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals, took care of his team taking the flight after the disappointment against the Celtics.
Phoenix lost to Indiana (87-112). TJ Warren, with 25 points, and Domantas Sabonis, with 24 points and 13 rebounds, carried the offensive weight of the Pacers. The Suns were bad in attack, with 17 points from Oubre, 16 from Booker, and 7 points and 3 assists from Ricky Rubio.
The pair formed by James Harden, with 27 points, and Westbrook, with 28 points, 16 rebounds, and Russell 8 assists, in addition to the contribution of Eric Gordon, with 25 points, led to Houston’s victory against Denver (121-105). In the Nuggets, Jokic got a triple double, with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Juancho Hernangómez added 4 points and 4 rebounds in 14 minutes.
Oklahoma City, with 31 Schröder points, 19 Chris Paul points and 18 points and 12 Gilgeous-Aleander rebounds, beat Orlando (114-120). Jayson Tatum, with 23 points, commanded Boston’s win over Memphis (119-95).