Zion Williamson enjoyed a “dream” NBA debut, but was frustrated he could not mark it with a Pelicans win.
Finally fit to play for the first time this season after knee surgery, the No. 1 overall draft pick — viewed as a generational talent — played 18 minutes as the Pelicans lost, 121-117, to the Spurs.
Williamson started slowly before scoring 17 straight points for New Orleans in the fourth quarter, including four stunning 3-pointers, to finish with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
The former Duke sensation was keen to look toward a first victory, though, with the Nuggets up next for the Pelicans on Friday.
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“It was good to get out there, but I didn’t get the outcome that I wanted,” Williamson said. “… It was everything I dreamed of except for the losing part. The energy the crowd brought, the energy the city brought, it was electric. I’m grateful they did that.
“So, it was a dream come true to finally get out there, but, at the end of the day, I wanted to win, so just got to look at the next game.”
Williamson, who described primitive “MVP” chants as “different,” said he felt “fine” after “that long rehab process,” but he could not answer when he would be able to play a full game.
“Personally, I didn’t want any restrictions, but I’m not a doctor or trainer,” he said. “I’ve just got to listen to them.”
And the teenager admitted some annoyance at having to bow out for Brandon Ingram with over five minutes remaining as the team manages his recovery.
“I’m 19, honestly,” he explained. “In that moment, I’m not thinking about longevity. I’m thinking about winning that game. It was very tough.”
Williamson acknowledged some benefits of his layoff, though, believing his stunning run of 3-pointers came due to his limited practice time in recent months.
“When you’re not able to move around, do athletic movements for a while, the only thing you can do is shoot spot-up jumpers,” added Williamson, who hit all four of his 3-pointers.
“I guess that was a result of that.”