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#pounditSaturday, August 8, 2020

Pelicans coach comments on Zion Williamson being on bench at end of game

Zion Williamson

The New Orleans Pelicans lost to the Utah Jazz 106-104 in the first game of the NBA’s resumed season on Thursday, and it didn’t help that arguably their best player spent crunch time on the bench.

Zion Williamson was on a minutes restriction, which meant he didn’t play at the end of the game when New Orleans needed him the most.

“We wish we could have played Zion down the stretch,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said after the game. “But he had used the minutes that had been given to us. That’s just the way it is. We weren’t going to stick him back out there. Our medical team said we played for us to play him.”

Williamson played in just 15 minutes, scoring 13 points in the game. His team was leading 93-89 with 7:19 left when he was replaced, and he never returned. They lost by two.

Williamson was on restricted minutes in order to work his way back into shape after spending around a week outside of the NBA’s bubble in Orlando on leave. Some wonder if it really is going to hurt his whole career to play 17 or 18 minutes instead of 15, but the Pelicans decided on a minutes limit and stuck to it.

Williamson believes he needs a few games to get back to normal.

It may have cost them the game, but they have been extraordinarily cautious with him all along.

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