After seeing New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson’s bowling by his team on the way to 38 points – and 18 free throws – on Saturday night, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carrisle was at a loss as to how to defend him.
“He’s an extraordinary force and obviously a great player,” Carlisle said after the MVS 112-103 fell during a visit. “We have to make something better next time, but he’s doing it all together. We have some good assets to protect him, but he was an animal.
“It presents huge challenges for defense and officers. It’s just creating a confrontation there. This is the kind of nature quack O’Neill with a set of point guard skills.”
Williamson, fresh with a career-high fresh off point, lost to the Denver Nuggets at home on Friday night, then went ahead with six assists and five rebounds with 38 points in 13-of-20 shooting. Under the pull, Pelican leaned more towards Williamson.
He scored or assisted the Pelicans’ final 14 points on Saturday, in the final 2:47, and helped the Pelicans take a 98-95 lead at the time and put the game ahead.
“I want to make the best game that will help us win,” Williams said. “Sometimes, he knew when and where to shoot. When to make a pass and when not to make a pass. I just want to win. It’s that easy.”
New Orleans couldn’t put the game ahead on Friday, eventually falling into the Nuggets. Williamson said the contest, and the losses that followed, played a “small part” in his aggression in Saturday’s fourth quarter, but, in the end, it was a new game.
As Williamson handles the ball more and more, his teammates are starting to develop it into someone who can get into the game at the last minute.
Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram said, “The ability to go there and know the angle of the basket and the angle of everything around the edge, it’s really beautiful.” “It’s beautiful to see him being as capable as he is and going to the rim and sometimes playing foul.”
Pelicans guard Nickel Alexander Nder-Waker said he was not surprised that Williamson was doing the right reading, as he has seen time and time again happen this season.
“He’s a great player and very selfless,” said Alexander Vaker. “He did winning plays tonight.”
Williamson often came to the line when he was not calling him. He had a season high with 12 free throws and 18 free throws.
Carlisle said defending Williamson has become a “real challenge.”
“You have to have a lot of courage to stand there and be run by that guy, because he’s coming to you fast,” Carlisle said. “It’s coming to you, like, it’s not just an Amtrak. It’s an Acela. It’s fast that doesn’t stop. It doesn’t stop at Westport or anywhere. It just goes – brother – straight to New York City. It’s something. There is another. “
Saturday’s outing was Williamson’s second consecutive game with at least 35 points, five rebounds and five assists, with Anthony Davis joining as the only player in franchise history to pull him into back-to-back games.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Williamson became the eighth player to score at least 75 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the 195 Clock Era (since 1954-55), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
According to ESPN statistics and data research, Williamson’s career before his 21st birthday was a career game with at least 30 points in the field with at least 30 points breaking the tie with LeBron James for the most in history.
Williamson also became the first player since O’Neill in 1995-96 to play four straight games with 25 points while shooting 65% or more.
But while all the praise and comparison is nice, Williams made it clear who he wants to be like.
“It’s an honor to hear my name in that category,” Williamson said, “but who am I? “