PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia 76ers have won their first game of 2023 by taking down a strong New Orleans Pelicans squad. It wasn’t easy but the Sixers held on for the win thanks to 42 points from Joel Embiid and 27 points from James Harden. While they were the stars for the winning side, Zion Williamson did just about everything he could to try to get the win for the Pelicans.

Williamson only played three quarters due to a hamstring strain but was absolutely dominant on the court. He scored 26 points on 10-12 shooting in 28 minutes to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. The Sixers had a tough time containing him whenever he looked to get to the rim.

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“I mean, listen, it’s like guarding a fast Shaq,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said of the Pelicans superstar. “He’s tough…He’s just a tough guy to guard.” The comparison is apt, as Williamson possesses a blend of raw power and quick-twitch finesse that has never been seen before. Several other players have both elements in their game but Williamson’s explosive athleticism makes him truly stand apart from others like LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo.

After scoring the first bucket of the game, Zion Williamson slowed down before eventually turning on the jets and punishing any defender in his path. He was forceful on his attacks to the rim but also was able to make the right passes time after time. Although he also committed five turnovers, his playmaking abilities were very important. The Pelicans will wait anxiously to see how severe his injury is.