All anyone could talk about before, during, and after the contest was Zion Williamson’s NBA debut and what it meant to the National Basketball Association. ESPN was so convinced of his box-office appeal they replaced the previously scheduled program with the Pelicans game, and to be fair, who wouldn’t want to watch the most polarizing prospect since LeBron James take the floor for the first time?
The first overall pick of the 2019 Draft crawled out of the gates, and though the Smoothie King Center crowd and national television audience weren’t there for LaMarcus Aldridge, the big man stole the spotlight. The seven-time All-Star tallied 7 points and 5 boards in the first quarter alone, and New Orleans never had an answer to slow his roll.
Aldridge knocked down step-back after step-back with Derrick Favors draped all over him, played bully ball with rookie center Jaxson Hayes, and took his talents beyond the arc when Pelicans defenders refused to follow in the pick-and-pop. LaMarcus finished with the night with 32 points, a season-high 14 rebounds, a pair of blocks, and put together one of his best performances of the year.
Now that I’ve paid my due diligence to bring Pounders some San Antonio Spurs highlights, let me join in on the Zion hype-train for a brief moment. Like I mentioned earlier, his first stint got off to a rocky start, but the mountainous man-child couldn’t be stopped once he found a rhythm.
ZION WENT OFF— ESPN (@espn) January 23, 2020
17 points and 4/4 from deep in 3 minutes pic.twitter.com/CfYklzb2Bv
Williamson rattled off 17 straight points to give New Orleans a late lead in the final frame, and had head coach Alvin Gentry not pulled the plug on this one-man comeback bid, the Pelicans MIGHT have won the game. However, the Silver and Black came away with a victory, and like Jeff Van Gundy said on last night’s telecast, “I’ll remember who won the game because that’s actually the premise.”