What began as a tight contest ended in a blowout, as the Portland Trail Blazers got ran out of the gym by one of the NBA’s newest and brightest stars and the rest of the New Orleans Pelicans 138-117 on the road.
Portland held the lead for most of the first half, and by as much as 16, but New Orleans nearly closed the gap before halftime and the 3rd quarter was a laugher as the Blazers went cold.
Zion comin’, yo!. Portland got its first look at the man who in all likelihood is destined to terrorize them along with the rest of the Western Conference for at least the next decade. Zion Williamson, the 6’6”, 285-pound behemoth out of Duke has been just as advertised since making his season debut in January, and tonight might have been his best outing so far (31 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists). Williamson looks like a video game character ripped straight from the arcade classic ‘NBA Jam,’ where things like running, jumping and dunking take center stage over ancillary skills like passing, dribbling or jump shooting. He’s like if the ‘85 Bears defense became a basketball player. Even operating within a minutes restriction, in his first game against the Blazers, Williamson was battling Hassan Whiteside on the boards, drew a shooting foul with a hard pivot into Carmelo Anthony’s face, and most impressively, out-dueled one of the hottest players in the league in Damian Lillard.
Welcome back, Ant. Anfernee Simons made his return after missing Sunday’s game against the Heat with a concussion. He wasn’t much of a factor on the court, but it’s good to see him healthy after taking a really scary fall against the Jazz on Feb. 7.
Off night. The legend of Gary Trent Jr. will have to be put on hold for at least a day, as he cooled off with only 4 points (0-4 from deep). Although, he did flash a nice post-up turnaround fadeaway reminiscent of Wesley Matthews. Even with with the dud, Trent is playing with confidence and beginning to show that his repertoire isn’t limited to just spot-up treys.
The Blazers are back at it tomorrow night in Memphis against the Grizzlies and another Super Rookie in Ja Morant.