For the second time this season, the New Orleans Pelicans married Zion Williamson’s “debut” with a one-minute ban, which kept them off the floor of a close game in the final minutes.
Williamson debuted on January 22, and after his 17 point outbreak nearly blew off the roof from Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, the rogue headed to the bench for the final 5:23 and the Pelicans lost to the San Antonio Spurs.
On Thursday night when the NBA resumed their season with Williamson and the Pelicans in the first game, he was again absent in the final minutes following a 106–104 loss to New Orleans at Utah in Lake Buena Vista, Florida Turned into jazz.
Williamson was set to play a predetermined number of minutes, and after reaching out in the fourth quarter he reached his quarters and finished fourth with a four-point lead over New Orleans. He did not return to lead the Jazz either, or with the 6.9 seconds remaining, the Pelicans had a chance to stick down two or win.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said, “Of course we want us to play him under the stretch, but we used the minutes he was given and that’s the way.”
“We weren’t going to knock him back out. The medical guys said that we played him in the minutes we were allowed to play him, and just move on. I thought he looked good, I figured He has some good moments., And obviously we are a much better and different team when he is on the floor. “
Asked if it was purely a conditioning issue with Williamson – who missed the first 43 matches of the season due to knee surgery – Gentry said, “I was told he could play minutes and That’s what I did. “
Overall, Williamson played 15 minutes against the Jazz and scored 13 points in 6-of-8 shooting. He did not pull down rebounds for the first time in his young NBA career. He also committed three fouls, had two turnovers and had a career-worst minus-16.
Williamson said it is “not only conditioning”, but to regain its flow and get a feel for the game.
“It’s the NBA, it’s the best player in the world, and you want to feel relaxed,” Williamson said. “If you understand me, I did not try to do more harm to my team.”
Williamson left the Orlando bubble on 16 July and went into a family medical emergency and came back on 24 July. Once he was back on the NBA campus, he had to quarantine in his hotel room for four days.
He left quarantine on Tuesday and joined the Pelicans for practice but did not work 5-on-5 or 3-on-3. He practiced with the team again on Wednesday – although Gentry said a light practice – and went through the shootaway on Thursday morning. It was game time for the opener against the Jazz.
Williamson said that the team did not hold him back and that although he wanted to be on the floor late in the fourth quarter, the team could easily outmaneuver him.
So how long will it take to get its flow back?
“Honestly, I don’t know how long Williamson will take.” “I think maybe a doubles game.”
Williamson said he had not suffered a setback during conditioning, but referred to it again as January when it came to sitting out of the stretch.
The loss left New Orleans behind to play seven games in the eighth seed eighth seed Western Conference. New Orleans returns to action Saturday against the LA Clippers before taking on the eighth-ranked Memphis Grizzlies.