NBA

Zion Williamson frustrated with minutes restriction as Pelicans slide

By Sports Desk August 02, 2020

New Orleans Pelicans sensation Zion Williamson said it is "very tough" to watch his team-mates lose with his minutes restricted.

The Pelicans have lost both of their games since the 2019-20 NBA season resumed on July 30 at Walt Disney World Resort, after the league was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New Orleans went down to the Utah Jazz on the opening night of the NBA's return before falling to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, with Williamson on restricted minutes due to his interrupted preparation in the Orlando bubble.

Williamson, who made his long-awaited debut in January, had to leave the Walt Disney complex to attend to an "urgent family matter", which led to the number one pick spending four days in quarantine.

Having completed just 29 minutes of basketball through two games since the restart, Williamson told reporters on Sunday: "It's very tough, to be honest, because as soon as I start to break that sweat, I look over and that horn is for me and I have to come out the game.

"Also, when I do catch the flow of the game, like I said, that horn goes off and it's for me."

"It's still fun but I guess, like you said, it's not to that full extent as y'all are used to seeing," Williamson added. "I'm a competitor, I want to stay on the court.

"When I'm coming out of the game, my competitive side of me that I want to stay in. I guess that does affect the fun a little bit, but not too much."

Williamson only played 15 minutes and scored 13 points in the Pelicans' 106-104 defeat to the Jazz, while he featured for just 14 minutes as New Orleans were beaten 126-103 by the Clippers.

On the game against the Clippers, which saw the Pelicans trail by as many as 37 points heading into the final quarter, head coach Alvin Gentry explained his decision not to put Williamson back on the court.

"We definitely would have saw him in that situation," Gentry said when asked if Williamson was set to play the fourth quarter originally.

"Obviously in a 30-point game, I'm not going to stick him back in in those situations even though some people think it would give him an opportunity to be on the floor and play. I just didn't feel like that made sense in that situation."

"We talked to him about that," Gentry said. "You just have to be smart in those situations. Everyone wants to play and play right now. We try to spend time as coaches and medical people trying to let him understand that this is going to be for the best short-term and long-term really."

The Pelicans are 12th in the Western Conference with a 28-38 record, adrift of the eighth-placed Memphis Grizzlies (32-34) in the race for the playoffs.

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