Zion Williamson is making one of the most anticipated debuts in league history as the New Orleans Hornets host the San Antonio Spurs. Williamson has been sidelined the last three months after tearing the meniscus in his right knee in the preseason. His first regular season game will be broadcast to a national audience by ESPN. The hype has been building for weeks.
We’ve covered Williamson’s journey to his pro debut every step of the way, from watching him as a rising high school senior at USA Basketball camp to chronicling his remarkable season at Duke to marveling at how incredible he was during his first NBA minutes in the preseason.
We’re going to provide live update throughout the night. As Williamson makes his debut in the 45h game of their season, the Pelicans enter at 17-27 and 3.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. We can’t wait to see how high Zion takes them.
Pregame and starting lineups for Zion’s debut
ESPN had a pregame cam following Williamson through warmups.
Williamson is in the starting lineup for New Orleans, starting at power forward.
Zion didn’t take a shot from the field before the first TV timeout, but he did register his first assist on this feed to Brandon Ingram.
- Williamson missed his first shot on a floater near the basket with 8:30 left in the first quarter. He checked out the game the next possession. His first stint lasted for 3:51. He did not re-enter the game in the first quarter.
Williamson scored his first NBA basket off an offensive rebound and putback.
The Spurs are out to a 43-31 lead midway through the second quarter. Williamson has three rebounds, but yet to have a big impact. He has subbed out with 7:35 left in the second quarter, and did not re-enter.
Zion’s running like he’s trying to avoid an injury, which is understandable I suppose.
— Mike Prada. I have spoken (@MikePradaSBN) January 23, 2020
The Spurs lead the Pelicans, 60-51, at halftime. Williamson has played eight minutes, and has two points, three rebounds, one assist, and two turnovers.
Williamson went to the foul line early in the third quarter, and split a pair of free throws:
He also had two sloppy turnovers in the third quarter and a layup on an assist from fellow rookie Jaxson Hayes.
He checked out in the third with 8:30 remaining.
This rebound and transition pass from Zion in the fourth quarter was his most impressive play of the night to that point.
Williamson scored 17 consecutive points in a 3:08 stretch in the fourth quarter. He hit a three-pointer, converted an alley-oop layup, hit another three, then finished a post feed inside. Then Williamson hit another three and another three and added a layup. After a boring debut, Williamson found a way to make it exciting in the fourth.
Here are the highlights from Williamson’s 17 straight points in the fourth quarter:
Williamson finished his night with 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and five turnovers in 18 minutes. He shot 8-of-11 from the field and 4-of-4 from three-point range. Almost all of the damage came in a quick stretch during the fourth quarter. He checked out of the game shortly after, and is finished for the night.