Zion Williamson It left the stamp of the greatest stars in its premiere in the NBA. The 19-year-old, the one who has raised the most expectations since the appearance of LeBron James in 2003, marveled in the blink of an eye, in just six and a half minutes of the last quarter. In that short interval he validated the fame that preceded him and the qualities that were so highly valued when he was chosen by New Orleans in number one of the last ‘draft’.
The peculiar and strong 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 that was granted by his coach Alvin Gentry, who decided to dose it with short appearances in each of the rooms. Zion displayed a collection of amazing resources and moves on that last leg. His 17 points were almost consecutive. He scored the four triples he threw, captured a defensive rebound by rising above Jakob Poeltl, a center who is 17 centimeters taller than him, and who stole another rebound in attack to score another basket. The Spurs, however, rebuilt and won the game (117-121).
Williamson added 22 points, with 4 of 4 in triples, 4 of 7 in shots of two, 2 of 4 in free throws, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 turnovers in just 18 minutes on the court. The strength and apparent calm with which he absorbs responsibility and the enormous media pressure around him, can be seen in his words minutes before the game. “Here I am finally,” he blurted out. “I like to play basketball. I’m going to go out there, have fun and compete. It is basketball. That’s what I do. This is what I have done since I was four years old. ”
Williamson’s gale was sparked when it seemed that Alvin Gentry’s decision to restrict his playing time was going to tarnish or mute his league debut. The Pelicans coach prioritizes the cautious plan outlined by the doctors and coaches. He limited his playing time to 18. Williamson has just recovered from the right knee meniscus operation he underwent on October 21, and Gentry does not want to make the slightest concession to the gallery. He relieved him after his display in the fourth quarter when there were still five and a half minutes to go. The coach’s priority was to avoid any risk to the physical condition of the power forward.
That objective prevailed, even though it seemed incompatible with the second objective that was to win the game against San Antonio. He failed to break the Spurs because Aldridge, with 32 points and 14 rebounds, and DeRozan, with 20 points, commanded the team of Gregg Popovich, who suffered in the end after dominating by 15 points.
January 22, 2020 becomes a date indicated in the sports almanacs. It is the day that Zion Williamson, aged 19 years and 201 days and 44 games later than scheduled, made his debut in the NBA, before the anxious media spotlights that had been aimed at 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 is going to be a circus and everyone knows it. What we have to do is focus on our work. ” The Pelicans coach placed Williamson in the starting lineup alongside Lonzo Ball, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and Derrick Favors.
Zion struggled to find the right rhythm. Hardly four minutes had passed, and Gentry sat him down. It was the established plan. Give it minutes, but few and in very short stretches. Marked by Trey Liles first and Jakob Poeltl later, he started scoring in an eyedropper.
In the third quarter, after being relieved after another stretch of just three minutes, Williamson publicly staged that he is still in the process of recovering and started pedaling on an exercise bike in a corner of the court. But it was just the warm-up for his recital in the last quarter.
The expectation to see him was enormous. It had been since the summer, since his first training with the Pelicans, which was attended by 10,000 spectators. The interest was more after his brilliant performances in the preseason games, in which he averaged 23.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 27.3 minutes, with a 71.4% accuracy rate. But he suffered a meniscus injury to his right knee and had to undergo surgery on October 21. According to forecasts, he was going to be between six and eight weeks off. Finally, he debuted 13 weeks and two days after undergoing surgery. During that time, the Pelicans won 17 games and lost 27. They rank twelfth in the Western Conference.
Toronto added its fifth win in a row, 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 from the match.
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 had 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 to forget as soon as possible the beating they received in Boston, where they fell by 32 points difference, and they did 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, ensured that his team took 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 Pacers’ offensive weight. The Suns were wrong 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 the victory of Houston against Denver (121-105). In the Nuggets, Jokic had 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 points from Schröder, 19 points from Chris Paul and 18 points and 12 rebounds from Gilgeous-Aleander, won in Orlando (114-120). Jayson Tatum, with 23 points, commanded Boston’s win over Memphis (119-95).
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