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Dazzling debut: Zion thrills with late burst

Dazzling debut: Zion thrills with late burst

Through three quarters, Zion Williamson’s NBA debut was a dud.

But after scoring five points in 11 tentative minutes against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, the New Orleans Pelicans’ rookie sensation unleashed the beast in the fourth quarter.

Williamson scored 17 straight Pelicans points in a 3:08 span to wake up a restless home crowd that had long waited for something to happen.

He skied high to steal a defensive rebound from Spurs center Jakob Poeltl and led a fast break that ended with an assist on an E’Twaun Moore layup.

It was the first flash of the remarkable athleticism he showed at Duke that made him the No. 1 pick in the draft.

The play prompted Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout. But the break in the action only appeared to fuel Williamson.

Williamson gets aggressive, finds his shot

On the first Pelicans possession out of the timeout, Williamson found himself unguarded with the ball at the top of the key beyond the arc. He didn’t hesitate, splashing home the 3-pointer that would ignite is scoring binge.

He followed it up with an alley-oop layup in traffic before hitting another 3-pointer. On his next bucket, he backed up Poeltl in the low post, where he missed a layup before outmuscling a pair of Spurs defenders for the rebound and putback.

Zion Williamson had an NBA debut to remember. (Derick E. Hingle/Reuters)

By the time the run was over, he’d done everything but dunk as he brought the New Orleans crowd to its feet as the Pelicans had cut a 14-point third-quarter deficit to a 109-108 Spurs lead.

Williamson didn’t have the opportunity to close the game, as Gentry pulled him for good with 5:23 remaining. His nearly seven-minute stretch was by far the longest of the night after he had played 3-to-4 minutes to start each of the first three quarters.

Limited action from the start

Williamson’s first bucket would have to wait as his initial stint on the court was brief and scoreless as he went to the bench at the 8:09 mark of the first quarter having missed his only shot.

He got on the board when he returned to the court in the second quarter with a putback layup for his first NBA points.

Gentry said before the game that Williamson wouldn’t have a minutes limit, but would initially play in short bursts. He stuck to that plan as Williamson didn’t see the floor for more than seven minutes at a time.

A long time coming

dunking during Pelicans warmups for weeks, but the team held off on his debut to ensure that he got in practice time and worked his way into game shape.’ data-reactid=”66″>Williamson has been seen dunking during Pelicans warmups for weeks, but the team held off on his debut to ensure that he got in practice time and worked his way into game shape.

Zion Williamson is officially an NBA player (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Entering the NBA with the most hype of any rookie since LeBron James, his presence has been notably absent through the first half of the season. The NBA built a significant chunk of its prime-time schedule around showcasing Williamson and the Pelicans.

Instead, national audiences have been treated to a young Pelicans team with talent but not ready to compete as they’ve gotten off to a 17-27 start.

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Source : Yahoo Sports Link