NBA

Williamson 'starting to find rhythm' after 33-point effort helps Pelicans down 76ers

By Sports Desk November 30, 2023

Willie Green believes Zion Williamson is "starting to find his rhythm" after his 33 points led the New Orleans Pelicans to a 124-114 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

Williamson went 11 of 12 from the field as the Pelicans moved to 10-9, taking advantage of the absence of reigning MVP Joel Embiid and ensuring the 76ers fell to 12-6.

Pelicans head coach Green is delighted with the play of Williamson, who has now scored at least 26 points and managed five assists in his last six games, saying: "He was great. He attacked the basket. Getting to the paint was something we were big on.

"He's been knocking off some rust. You can see he's getting better and better as we progress. He's starting to find his rhythm.

We're putting him in different situations and he's thriving, so it's fun to see."

With Embiid out through illness, Philadelphia struggled without their key man, and 76ers head coach Nick Nurse was frustrated with his team's display after the game.

"We cannot use that [Embiid's absence] as an excuse, and we won't," Nurse told reporters. "What put us in a big hole is we didn't go out and execute our defensive schemes the way we wanted to from the start of the game."

Related items

  • 'Lot of value' in Warriors keeping Curry, Green and Thompson together, says Kerr 'Lot of value' in Warriors keeping Curry, Green and Thompson together, says Kerr

    Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr believes there is a "lot of value" in the team keeping their core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson together, as the latter of the trio prepares to hit free agency.

    The Warriors' season came to an abrupt end on Tuesday as they were dumped out of the Play-In Tournament by the Sacramento Kings, falling to a 118-94 defeat to their upstate rivals. 

    It is the third time in the last five seasons that Golden State – who have won four NBA championships under Kerr – have missed out on a playoff berth. 

    That has led to questions being asked about the team's future, and they have a decision to make over Thompson as the 34-year-old prepares to become an unrestricted free agent.

    While the Warriors have outlined their desire to keep Thompson, he has been linked with the Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks and says his priority is playing for a championship contender. 

    Speaking at his exit interview on Thursday, Kerr spoke of the difficulties of breaking up great teams and said he was keen to continue working with the Warriors' 'big three'. 

    "It's rarely a storybook," Kerr said. "Even the '96 or '98 Bulls, the team was broken up and we won the championship in our last year but there was a documentary about what a disaster the whole thing was. It's impossible for this stuff to end perfectly.

    "I do think there is a lot of value to having our three guys being Warriors for life. I think there's a lot of value in ending with dignity.

    "For those three, I really want to see all of them finish their careers here, but also finish out their careers with a sense of pride and dignity in what they're doing."

    Much of the Warriors' season was overshadowed by discussions regarding Green's ill-discipline, with the forward being ejected four times in 2023-24.

    Green also missed 16 games after receiving an indefinite suspension for striking Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic in the face in December, an incident that Kerr described as "unforgivable".

    However, Kerr still believes Green is worth the trouble, saying: "Yet I forgave him. He's one of the most competitive, one of the smartest players I've ever been around. 

    "Yet he makes these decisions that hurt the team, that aren't smart. So how do you reconcile all that? It's really difficult. 

    "The number one thing I would say is, if we decided he wasn't worth it then we would have moved off of him years ago. 

    "But he's worth it and he's worth it not only because of the banners that are hanging out there but because he really is a wonderful human being."

  • Leonard questionable for Game 1 versus Mavs as Clippers monitor 'unpredictable' situation Leonard questionable for Game 1 versus Mavs as Clippers monitor 'unpredictable' situation

    Kawhi Leonard is questionable for Game 1 of the Los Angeles Clippers' playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks as he continues to be troubled by inflammation in his right knee.

    Leonard has undergone surgeries to repair damage to the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in his right knee in the last few years, having torn his ACL during a second-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz in 2021.

    The six-time All-Star has not featured for the Clippers – who clinched the Western Conference's fifth seed – since the end of March, missing their last eight games of the regular season. 

    Speaking ahead of Thursday's practice session, the Clippers' president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said Leonard had work to do to make Sunday's matchup at Crypto.com Arena.

    "He's doing everything, our medical staff is doing everything to get the inflammation down so he can play," Frank said. 

    "Progress has been made, but the inflammation needs to continue to reduce so he can do functional basketball movements.

    "There is no gamesmanship here and we're very sensitive of the fact that questions are going to be asked and want to be as transparent as possible. It's okay to say what the truth is. It's unpredictable. 

    "We're hoping it's trending in the right direction. It's a very accurate statement. When it gets to a point where he's able to play, then that's when he'll be back on the court."

    The two-time NBA champion averaged 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds through 68 regular-season appearances in 2023-24, the former figure falling just short of his 23.8 points per game last term.

    Despite Leonard's importance to the Clippers' chances of defeating Luka Doncic and company, Frank says no risks will be taken with his fitness. 

    "In terms of where we're heading, is it possible he could play? Sure, it's possible. It's Thursday. With each day we'll know more and more," Frank said. 

    "Obviously if he's not healthy to play at a certain moment then he won't be out there. When Kawhi is healthy, he plays. 

    "Some things you can't control, regardless of how meticulous he is with his body and everything that goes into playing. You can only control what you can control and you've got to surrender to the things you can't."

  • James not looking to past results ahead of Lakers-Nuggets rematch James not looking to past results ahead of Lakers-Nuggets rematch

    LeBron James believes the media are putting "too much emphasis" on the Los Angeles Lakers' recent history with the Denver Nuggets.

    The Lakers, after their win over the New Orleans Pelicans, will take on the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

    Los Angeles lost to Denver in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, as the Nuggets went on to win the NBA championship.

    The Lakers, meanwhile, defeated the Nuggets en route to winning the championship in 2020.

    James, though, is not looking back at past results as an indicator of how this series might play out.

    "I think you're putting a little bit too much emphasis on it," James said. 

    "This is our first-round matchup. I mean, we're looking forward to the postseason. But I haven't been, like, looking forward to the rematch.

    "The game is played how it's being played, and this is the matchup. So we're looking forward to that challenge.

    "It shouldn't be personal at all. I think you allow yourself to get away from the game plan when you make it too personal.

    "We have a game plan. You go out there and execute it and you live with the results. I'm kind of the last person you should [ask that], I just stay even-keeled.

    "I've been in the postseason way too long in my career to know that you don't get too high off of Game 1 or get too high over whoever the matchup is. You got to just stay even-keeled."

    Lakers coach Darvin Ham did say his team can take lessons from last year's defeat, in particular when focusing on cutting out small errors.

    And James echoed the sentiment.

    "We just got to be better all around," he said. "Obviously, it's a great team that we're playing against. A team that won the championship, so they've been in a lot of big games and know what they want to get to late in games.

    "So we just have to be very disciplined and have our mind into throughout the course of 48 minutes or however long it takes.

    "It's going to be challenging but that's what the postseason is all about. It should be."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.