Zion Williamson shines in Bay Area debut, leads Pelicans over the Warriors, 115-101
By Emmanuel Rivera, RRT PhilBoxing.com Tue, 25 Feb 2020
February 23, 2020, San Francisco, California -- The crowd oohed and aahed at the Chase Center Sunday night but it wasn’t all for the home team.
Some of the cheers went to the nine outgunned Warriors without leader Draymond Green (F) (hip contusion) and Marquese Chriss (C) (left calf soreness).
For most of the game, though, the props went to NBA rookie Zion Williamson whose 28 points featured a repertoire of alley oops, monster forward & backward dunks, finesse layups and his first three-pointer.
Williamson has already racked up 20+ point in eighth consecutive games, the best streak by a rookie this season. He played 33 minutes, made 13 of 20 buckets, 7 rebounds and 2 assists amounting to 28 points.
Against this version of Golden State, the rookie showed his leadership skills in the locker room with a half-time talk that fired up the Pelicans who erased a 10-point deficit at half-time.
"It was one of those things where I just said, `Yo, we have to play with more energy. We're much better than this," Williamson said. "When it comes down to it, if I say something then it means I'm into the game and something isn't right. Obviously, we got the win and that's the most important part."
Video courtesy of PhilBoxing.com (With report and assist from Mr. Jason Aniel)
Golden State had a great start, led the first quarter 33-29, sustained progress 55-46 at the half and was tied by New Orleans at 77-all at the end of the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, New Orleans pulled away posting a 15-5 run and kept the lead for good.
Zion dished 28 points and 7 rebounds, Jrue Holiday scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. Nicolo Melli repeated a career high of 20 points and six 3-pointers, JJ Reddick added 9 points, and Brandon Ingram had 17 points and five assists.
Would it have mattered tonight if Zion and the Pels faced the Splash Brothers Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguadola (remember them?) instead of tonight’s starting five---Andrew Wiggins (F), Erich Paschall (F), Kevon Looney (C), Damion Lee(G), Jordan Poole (G)?
"He isn't your typical 19-year-old," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "He's a very mature kid, very respectful of his teammates and they are very respectful of him as well. He is all about winning. Just winning."
“I thought he was good. He’s explosive, strong and he knows how to play too. He makes really good passes out there, recognizes double teams and scores so easily around the rim because of his power. He’s a really great, young player without much experience at all. He’s only going to get better,” Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr said on seeing Zion Williamson in person.
Back on everyone’s mind is the Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial today in Los Angeles.
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr issued this statement on behalf of his team.
“Well, Steph (Stephen Curry) and Draymond (Green) will go down to LA for the service with Bob Myers (General Manager and President of Basketball Operations), but the rest of the team and staff will stay here and practice tomorrow. It will be a tough day for the NBA and it’s been a tough few weeks for everybody. It doesn’t seem real, it really doesn’t. It’s a constant reminder when you hear his name, see him on TV, see images -- it’s a constant reminder of what happened and how tragic it was and how tragic it is for his family. We will all be thinking of Vanessa (Bryant), the family and the Lakers with the service tomorrow. As I said, Steph, Draymond and Bob will represent us there.”
Mr. Jason Aniel, PhilBoxing.com contributor, shared these candid thoughts during half-time. “Alen Smailagić is only 19 and he plays really hard and aggressive. His style would be perfect for the Philippine Basketball Association. He’s got grit and determination. He’s got lots of room to grow in the NBA. Andrew Wiggins can really excel in his new role with the Warriors once Curry and Thompson return from injury. I’ve been really impressed with his defensive effort and fit with the Warriors system.”
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (TEAM NOTABLES)
• Golden State fell to 7-21 (.250) at home and 12-45 (.211) overall this season.
• The loss snapped the Warriors three-game home winning streak vs. New Orleans.
• Last night’s game marked the fourth and final game of the season series between Golden State and New Orleans, with each team winning two games.
• Last night’s game marked Golden State’s 371st consecutive sellout, moving them into a tie for 10th-longest sellout streak all-time with the Charlotte Hornets.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (PLAYER NOTABLES)
• Damion Lee posted his eighth outing of 20-plus points this season including three outings of 20-plus in his three games played vs. New Orleans.
• Dragan Bender made his Warriors debut, having signed a 10-day contract earlier today… He sank a season-high-tying two three-point baskets and dished out a season-high three assists while scoring six points.
• Andrew Wiggins celebrated his 25th birthday today… Wiggins recorded his best rebounding night as a Warrior with a team and season-high-tying 10 boards… He snapped his career-best streak of 65 consecutive double-figure scoring games (eight points tonight).
• Juan Toscano-Anderson recorded career highs of 16 points, eight rebounds, two blocks.
• Jordan Poole extended his career-long double-figure scoring streak to six games (19 points).
It was a pleasure meeting Mr. Yicong “Henry” Zhu who writes b-ball for the NBA HOOP, CHINA. He currently attends the University of California, Santa Cruz working on his business degree with later aspirations for a Masters in Sports Management.