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Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson speaks on minutes restriction vs. Spurs

Zion Williamson, Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson had an electrifying NBA debut, but he admitted that the minutes restriction was “very hard” to deal with.

Speaking to the media after his 22-point explosion against the San Antonio Spurs, Zion opened up about his debut and how he handled the minutes limitation given to him after missing the first half of the season due to a torn meniscus.

Williamson finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the game. However, he played for only 18 minutes after Alvin Gentry pulled him out of the game per the advise of the team’s medical staff.

It is worth noting that Zion was on a hot streak — scoring 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to erase a Spurs lead — before the Pelicans decided to end his night. His scoring output was the best mark for a rookie in franchise history, and it is also the most points scored by a rookie in his NBA debut in less than 20 minutes.

In the end, the Spurs came out with a narrow 121-117 win, spoiling a historic debut for the most hyped rookie of the past two decades since LeBron James in 2003.

While Zion Williamson’s frustration is understandable, the Pelicans have every reason to be cautious of their prized asset. After all, with their playoff aspirations still alive, they need the 19-year-old to be 100 percent healthy and ready for the rigorous series of games that lie ahead.

The Pelicans dropped to 17-28 after the defeat, putting them four games behind the Spurs for the eighth and final playoff spot in the tough Western Conference. Gregg Popovich and San Antonio improved to 20-23 after the victory.