Zion leads late surge in Pels loss

Jerry Humphrey III, theSCORE Lead Reporter

Zion Williamson finally made his long-awaited NBA debut Wednesday night versus the San Antonio Spurs. Williamson,the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The Pelicans rookie was sidelined the majority of the season due to a torn right meniscus. Not to mention the Duke product also left his summer-league debut in July after nine minutes with a bruised left knee, but it was not considered a serious issue.

The 19-year-old averaged 23.3 points on 71.4 percent shooting and 6.5 rebounds in four preseason games, so the countdown to his return was highly anticipated. 

After a slow start (five points and 2 turnovers in three quarters of play) Williamson finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes. He exploded in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 straight points for the Pelicans in one stretch. Including going 4-4 from the three-point line. 

Williamson was on a 15-20 minute minutes restriction and was removed from the game when New Orleans had shifted momentum back to their side. 

In those final minutes, the San Antonio Spurs gained control and won 121-117 behind Lamarcus Aldridge, who led the charge with 32 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. The Spurs finished the game with six players in double figures.

Even in the opposing locker room, the conversation eventually shifted to Williamson’s big night.

“He’s special, you know? I hope he can stay healthy and be able to put it together. The sky’s the limit for him.” DeRozan said. Ja Morant

Rookie of the year front-runner Ja Morant from the Memphis Grizzlies tweeted out “SOUTH CAROLINA I KNOW YALL LOVING THIS” to congratulate his former AAU teammate. 

Furthermore, the Pelicans are currently 12th in the Western Conference so for a shot at a playoff berth they cannot afford to lose many more games.  

Williamson said his NBA debut was everything he dreamed of, except for the loss. That part, he hopes will change his next time out. 

“Just the energy the crowd brought, the energy the city brought, it was electric, and I’m just grateful that they did that,” Williamson said. “It was a dream come true to finally get out there; but at the end of the day, I did want to win, so just got to look to the next game.”