Wed, 08 Apr 2020

Zion in spotlight as Pelicans host Spurs

Field Level Media
22 Jan 2020, 06:55 GMT+10

Zion Williamson is ready to go.

The highly anticipated NBA debut of the No. 1 overall pick is scheduled to occur Wednesday night when Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans host the San Antonio Spurs.

The 6-foot-6 forward had arthroscopic knee surgery just before the start of the season and was expected to miss six to eight weeks. He will make his debut 13 weeks and two days after surgery, as the Pelicans were extremely cautious in making sure he was ready to go.

"It's finally here," a smiling Williamson said after practice Tuesday. "I love playing basketball. I'm going to go out there, have fun and compete. It's basketball. It's what I do. I've done it since I was four."

The Pelicans are eager to see what kind of impact the rookie will have on a team that seems to be finding itself after enduring a 13-game losing streak earlier in the season.

They have won 11 of 16 since the losing streak, including a 126-116 victory at Memphis on Monday.

"I think everybody around the country and everybody around the league is excited about seeing him and watching him play," New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. "It's going to be a circus and everyone knows that. What we have to do is focus on the task at hand and that is playing a really good San Antonio team.

"It is going to be good to get him out there. I think the big thing for us is we just need to get him out there so all of this goes away and then we can just start to figure out rotations and how we are going to play and things we are going to do."

The Pelicans hope Williamson's return goes as well as second-leading scorer Jrue Holiday's return against the Grizzles. He came back from a seven-game absence due to an elbow contusion to make a career-high seven 3-pointers and tie a season-high with 36 points as New Orleans made a franchise-record 21 3-pointers on 48 attempts.

The Spurs, like the Pelicans, have played better since going through a lengthy losing streak earlier in the season.

San Antonio lost eight in a row in November, but has gone 14-12 since then, including a 120-118 victory at Phoenix on Monday night. The Spurs lost a 20-point lead before rallying and holding on in the final seconds.

"It's called basketball, it's the NBA and it happens all the time," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Bryn Forbes' eighth 3-pointer of the game put San Antonio on top 114-113 with 2:33 remaining.

"It felt good to see a big shot go down," Forbes said. "I think my teammates did a great job finding me, slashing and kicking. Just keep shooting. It should be the same mentality always -- ups, downs, keep shooting."

San Antonio didn't trail again and won for the fifth time in eight games.

Forbes finished with 24 poins, one fewer than Derrick White had in scoring his season-high. LaMarcus Aldridge added 19 points and DeMar DeRozan scored 18 with nine rebounds and eight assists.

The Suns had a chance to win at the end, taking possession down by two points with 5.6 seconds left, but Devin Booker missed a long 3-pointer.

--Field Level Media

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