LeBron James and Anthony Davis were well-rested going into the NBA regular-season finale against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Los Angeles Lakers had two days off following a 45-minute flight from Memphis before squaring off against Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. The Pelicans lost, setting up a rematch with the Lakers after a day for both teams to recuperate. Williamson was left lamenting the team's slow start and his passive nature after the crushing defeat.

New Orleans could have spent the week resting and scouting the shorthanded Minnesota Timberwolves. Instead, the Pelicans are facing a quick turnaround. Their postseason pathway now has to go through LeBron James and possibly Steph Curry depending on the NBA Play-In Tournament's first-round results. Williamson's inspired defense of late went by the wayside on the return to the Smoothie King Center.

The two-time NBA All-Star could only sheepishly admit the Pelicans were in the wrong mind frame to stop the league's all-time leading scorer.

“They got whatever they wanted in the paint. They dominated us in the paint tonight…,” admitted Williamson. “We'll go back and watch the film so we can really break down the details. We'll regroup as a team…We have to match the energy at the start of the game. We have to start out with more energy. Those slow starts really cost us. When the game starts we've got to be ready to go from the gate.”

Williamson was not up to his All-NBA potential standard on either end of the court against the Lakers.

“Offensively, I think I was being too passive if I'm being honest,” Williamson shared. “I don't think I was super aggressive the whole game. Like I said, when I go back and watch the film I'll be able to break it down more.”

Pelicans hearing gripes about home court record

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) fight for position during the second half at Smoothie King Center.
Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The 23-year-old has yet to experience postseason basketball as a professional but cannot let this setback linger in his memory long. The postgame media scrum will do enough scratching at those wounds to remind Williamson of the shortcomings. The Pelicans have a better road record than home, and that lack of home court protection is a substantial factor in the team's current Play-In predicament.

To his credit, Williamson stuck to the script after the loss to the Lakers.

“I hate to keep reiterating myself,” replied Williamson. “That is something that when I watch the film and can break it down more by watching it a few times I'll have a better answer. So will the coaches and we'll be able to talk about it…We're grateful for the opportunity. We've just got to handle business.”

The Pelicans gave the home fans nothing in the way of inspiring moments. There were no stout defensive stops on consecutive possessions. The barrage of run-sparking three-pointers never materialized. Lackadaisical performances at home have become a season-long trend. Protecting the Smoothie King Center court has not seemed like a priority, especially after longer road trips.

“That has been an area we definitely need to work on,” Williamson allowed. “Like I said, we've got to watch the film and regroup as a team because we are here now. The next part of the season is about to start so we have to regroup as a team to find the mistakes we made and make adjustments.”