Things may have started slowly for Zion Williamson in his NBA debut against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, but they certainly didn’t end that way. The top pick from the 2019 NBA Draft caught fire in the fourth quarter of their contest when he scored 17 points in a span of less than four minutes of action and knocked down all four of his three-point attempts. With Williamson leading the way, the Pelicans were able to make a run and pull within three after being down double-digits from much of the game. Williamson’s hot streak was cut short though, as Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry subbed his star rookie out of the game and didn’t put him back in. 

The Pelicans went on to lose the game 121-117, while Williamson finished 22 with points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in 18 minutes. Afterward, Twitter unsurprisingly had a lot to say about Williamon’s fourth-quarter explosion and the fact that he had to observe the closing moments of the contest from the bench. 

The fans that filled the Smoothie King Center on Wednesday night obviously wanted to see Williamson finish off the game, and they were vocal about their feelings. Considering how well Williamson was playing, and the fact that they already had to wait several months to see him out on the court, you can’t blame them. 

Considering how much he means to the future of the franchise, and the fact that he hasn’t played in months, Williamson’s action on Wednesday night was always going to be limited. The Pelicans want him to be the face of their franchise for the next decade-plus, so they are going to ease him into professional play slowly. Some were more understanding of this than others. 

Others were less concerned with the Pelicans’ long-terms plan, and would have preferred the organization to live more in the moment. 

Alvin Gentry was on the receiving end of a lot of the ire regarding Williamson’s early exit from the game, but ultimately the decision was out of his hands, and he made that clear after the game. 

Like any other player in the midst of a hot stretch, Williamson obviously wanted to stay in the game, and he said that coming out was “tough.” 

Thanks to that scorching stretch in the fourth, Williamson’s debut was a very memorable one. Would it have been more memorable if he was able to stay in for the stretch run to potentially pilot a Pelicans comeback victory? Sure,and in an ideal world that would have happened. But the NBA is a business, and you can’t fault the organization for protecting their investment, as they’re hoping for 10 more years of performances like the one Williamson put on in the final quarter on Wednesday night. 


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