Zion’s ‘impressive’ layup foils Wemby, Spurs late


SAN ANTONIO — With time ticking away, Zion Williamson knew he had to make a play. But he also needed to know where Victor Wembanyama was.

As the 7-foot-4 rookie, as well as Jeremy Sochan and Devin Vassell, tried to chase the New Orleans Pelicans forward down, Williamson ran up to the rim at full speed and used his soft touch to get his layup to fall with 3.8 seconds remaining.

The Pelicans got the stop they needed on the other end from Brandon Ingram as the team held on for a 114-113 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.

“I sent [Ingram] a text message right after the game because he was already doing his lift,” Williamson said. “I said, ‘B.I., if you don’t get that block, I don’t think we win this game. So hats off to B.I. on that one.”

It was the first go-ahead field goal in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime in Williamson’s career, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Williamson also was aware of who was chasing him down because of what happened a minute prior. With the Pelicans down one with 1:01 remaining, Williamson tried to get a layup past Wembanyama, but instead the ball blocked off the backboard into a possession for San Antonio that ended with two Tre Jones free throws.

Ingram found a wide-open Williamson under the goal for a dunk on the next Pelicans possession to cut the lead to one. Instead of calling a timeout, the Spurs played it out with 28.5 seconds to go.

Jones drove to the basket with 14 seconds on the clock and missed a layup attempt. Wembanyama was able to box out Ingram and went up for a putback. After having to wait for a split second to make sure the ball was outside of the cylinder, Wembanyama tried to put the ball back, but Ingram swatted him from behind to start a fast break.

“I just missed the rebound, and I knew I had to make up for it and try to make a play on the ball,” Ingram said. “I saw that he was about to hit the ball back in. I just tried to do everything that to deter him from making the easy bucket because I know on the other had we’d have to score three to tie.”

After Ingram’s block, the ball found its way to Jose Alvarado, who started the break. Alvarado immediately got it to Williamson, who was already starting his sprint at the half-court line.

Williamson went by Sochan and saw Vassell to his left as he went up for the shot, with Wembanyama trailing, and got the layup to go off the glass as he crashed to the floor.

Pelicans coach Willie Green said once Williamson started going, he knew that he was going to let that play decide the game.

“It was extremely impressive,” Green said of Williamson’s layup. “I haven’t gone back and watched it, but I saw the ball hit his hands and he just took off. I had a timeout and there was no way I was going to burn that timeout at that time with him going as fast as he was and it was one of those moments where whatever we were going to do, we would probably put the ball in his hands anyway.”

Williamson finished with a game-high 33 points to go along with eight rebounds and four assists.

New Orleans also got big boosts from the bench on Friday from reserve guards Dyson Daniels and Jose Alvarado.

Alvarado, who has been in and out of the lineup with the emergence of Pelicans rookie Jordan Hawkins, checked in with 6:46 remaining in the third quarter and stayed in the remainder of the game. Green said Alvarado “really turned things around for us” when he entered.

With defensive stalwart Herb Jones missing the game with right adductor soreness, the Pelicans had to figure out how they wanted to guard Wembanyama.

The 6-foot-7, 203-pound Daniels took on the assignment in the second half and more than held his own. According to Second Spectrum, Daniels defended Wembanyama on 16 half-court possessions overall and Wembanyama was just 0-of-1 from the field on those plays.

“I was trying to be physical, push his catches out and when he tried to back me down, just make him shoot over me,” Daniels said. “That’s the best thing you can do with guys like that. When they get too close to the rim, they can just put it up over you. So, it was about being physical and trying to hold my ground.”

The win was the first for New Orleans in seven tries this season in a game decided by three points or less.

Wembanyama finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals. It was his 11th game this season with multiple blocks and multiple steals, breaking a tie with Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis for the most in the league this season. No other player has more than six such games.

Williamson had nothing but respect for his fellow No. 1 overall pick following the game.

“Vic is a very special player,” Williamson said. “We were just talking about it in the locker room. He’s a dude that can get two or three Defensive Player of the Years and also, I don’t want to put a limit on it, but he can get Defensive Player of the Year and MVPs.

“We haven’t seen nothing like that. We’ve seen things close. But not like that. He’s an amazing player. Especially with [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] over there, he’ll continue to develop.”

Articles You May Like

Kaplan’s latest buzz: Goalie market, what Penguins and Capitals will do among hot topics
7 UFC 298 fighters flagged for rehydration issue
Murray after loss: Unlikely to play past summer
Live updates from coaches, GMs at the NFL combine: Latest on Derrick Henry, Russell Wilson, Falcons QBs
Nakatani wins WBC bantamweight title by TKO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *