After watching New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson swoop in and smash his team to 38 points – and 18 free throws – on Saturday night, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle didn’t know. how to mark it.
“He’s an unusual force and obviously a great player,” Carlisle said after the Mavs fell 112-103. “We’ll have to think of something a little better next time, but he’s doing this to everyone. We had very good possessions protecting him, but he was a beast.”
“He presents huge challenges for defense and officials. He’s just creating collisions. This is a Shaquille O’Neal-type force of nature with a point guard skill set.”
Williamson, fresh off 39 points in Friday night’s home loss to the Denver Nuggets, followed with 38 points on 13 of 20 shooting for six assists and five rebounds. Down the stretch, the Pelicans leaned even more toward Williamson.
He scored or assisted in the last 14 points for the Pelicans on Saturday, all in the final 2:47, and helped the Pelicans take a 98-95 lead at that point and put the game aside.
“I want to make the best play that helps us win,” Williamson said. “Sometimes that’s knowing when to shoot and when not to shoot. When to pass and when not to. I just want to win. It’s as simple as that.”
New Orleans couldn’t save the game on Friday, eventually losing to the Nuggets. Williamson said the contest, and the loss that accompanied it, played a “small role” in his aggressiveness in the fourth quarter on Saturday, but that it was ultimately a new game.
As Williamson handles the ball more and more, his teammates begin to see him grow into someone who can take over games in the final minutes.
“The ability to go in there and know the angles of the basket and know the angles of everything around the rim, it’s really beautiful,” Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram said. “To be as efficient as him and go to the basket and sometimes get fouled and play through it, it’s beautiful to watch.”
Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker said he is not surprised that Williamson is getting the readings right, because he has seen it happen over and over again this season.
“He’s a great player and very selfless,” Alexander-Walker said. “He made the winning plays tonight.”
When he wasn’t delivering it, Williamson came on the line frequently. He had season highs with 12 free throws made and 18 free throw attempts.
Carlisle said defending Williamson has become “a real challenge.”
“You have to have a lot of guts to stand there and get run over by that guy, because he’s coming towards you fast,” Carlisle said. “He’s coming at you, like, he’s not just an Amtrak. He’s an Acela. He’s the fastest that doesn’t stop. He doesn’t stop in Westport or wherever. He just goes, ugh! – straight to New York City. It’s something else. “
Saturday’s outing was Williamson’s second straight game with at least 35 points, five rebounds and five assists, joining Anthony Davis as the only players in franchise history to do so in consecutive games.
Williamson became the eighth player in the shot clock era (from 1954-55) to have at least 75 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists while shooting more than 70% from the field in a span of two games, according to Elias. Sports Bureau.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, it was Williamson’s 11th career game with at least 30 points as he shot 60% or more from the field, breaking a tie with LeBron James for the most in NBA history. before a player’s 21st birthday.
Williamson also became the first player since O’Neal in 1995-96 to have four consecutive games with 25 points and shooting 65% or more.
But while all the praise and comparisons are nice, Williamson made it clear who he wants to look like.
“It’s an honor to hear my name in those categories,” Williamson said, “but I am who I am.”