Prior to the game Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, stated that rookie sensation Zion Williamson would only play in short bursts. Gentry made this decision because Williamson has missed all of the NBA scrimmages prior to the season restart. Alvin Gentry kept true to his statements. This decision would lead to the downfall of the Pelicans in their game against the Jazz.
In his limited time, Zion Williamson recorded 13 points and 1 assist. He did this all in roughly 4-minute bursts for a total of 15 minutes in the game. At one-point, Zion Williamson was 4-4 in field goals and had more points than minutes. Despite all of this Alvin Gentry did not play Zion in the last 7 minutes of the 4th quarter when the Pelicans needed his efficient scoring the most. During these seven minutes, the Pelicans gave up a 7-point lead and lost 104-106.
I’m not upset that Zion wasn’t played at the end of the 4th quarter. During what little time he had in the 4th, Zion was sloppy. In the 4th quarter, Zion Williamson was 0-2 on field goals. He also had not recorded a single rebound on offense or defense up to that point. By the 4th quarter, Zion Williamson was either tired or out of rhythm. He accomplished little in the 4th quarter and I doubt he could have changed the outcome of the match. If Zion would have come in at the 4th quarter the outcome would have been no different.
However, what I am upset about is the lack of time given to Zion in the first half. In the 1st half Zion was 4 for 5 and had more points than minutes. He was in a rhythm and playing well. Yet Alvin Gentry kept his word and took Zion out. If he would have stayed in the Pelicans could have a 20-point lead by halftime. Zion’s presence could have even improved the performance of Lonzo Ball. Ball played horrid, only scoring 4 points on 13 shots, with 7 assists.
The Pelicans played a close game against the Utah Jazz and lost by 2 points. What’s sad is that they did this with one of their best weapons on the bench. Once Zion returns to form and can play full games once again the Pelicans are going to be a solid playoff team. But the Pelicans cannot think for one second that they can make the playoffs by playing Zion Williamson 15 minutes a game.