Zion has a message of reflection.
The New Orleans Pelicans fell to the Los Angeles Lakers 89-133 in Game 4 of the 2023-2024 NBA In-Season Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Monday night.
New Orleans joined Sacramento in the quarterfinals with a solid performance. With their starting five of Zachary Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, CJ McCollum, and Jonas Valanciunas 안전카지노사이트 complete, more was expected.
But Las Vegas turned out to be a nightmare for them. After falling behind in the second quarter, New Orleans collapsed into lethargy and failed to punch their ticket to the finals with a 44-point loss.
Head coach Draymond Green said after the game, “I’m totally disappointed, I’m disappointed in the will to compete that everybody showed, and the Lakers dominated the game. They knew what it took to win a big game. Some of our players were in an elimination game for the first time since college. So they will learn as they gain experience and grow. It’s a learning experience, especially for Zion Williamson.”
In his first four seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans, injuries prevented him from playing in any of the big games like the play-in tournament and playoffs. This game was perhaps the biggest game he’s ever played in his career.
However, Zion’s first elimination game appearance as a pro was a disappointment. After a lackluster quarterfinal performance, Zion was ineffective in the semifinals, scoring just 13 points. His weaknesses on the defensive end of the floor were highlighted when he was blocked by LeBron James, who was born in 1984.
It was a game that showed no signs of struggle, especially with only two rebounds in the entire game. Despite his monstrous athleticism and strength, he was unable to fight for rebounds.
Now in his fifth season as a professional, Zion is averaging 22.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. These are great numbers, of course, but they don’t compare to his previous performances and the talent he possesses. His rebounding numbers are especially disappointing.
Then, Barkley, who has been very vocal about his criticisms of Zion, weighed in again. Barkley wants Zion to get better.
“When my grandmother was alive, if I didn’t get double-digit rebounds, she would call me and yell at me. A talented big man shouldn’t have less than 10 rebounds. Zion should be averaging 11 to 12 rebounds a game, but he’s not on the court at all,” he said.
“What disturbs me is that he’s not a kid anymore. I was a rookie when Moses Malone was on the sidelines calling me fat and lazy, and he’s been in the league long enough now. There are two players on his team right now who are better than him, and that shouldn’t be the case. He was drafted first overall and should be clearly better than Brandon Ingram. He’s not even close to being the best player.”
Zion himself recognizes the shortfall. He echoed Willie Green’s sentiments and vowed to get better.
“The guys weren’t competitive enough. We didn’t compete and tonight’s performance was not who we are. I have to be better. I need to be more aggressive in finding my shot and do more to help the team improve. And I have to be better defensively,” he reflected.
The Lakers game thoroughly exposed Zion’s weaknesses in shooting and defense. If he can’t overcome these weaknesses in this game, it might be hard to see him reaching the next level. However, he’s still young and incredibly talented, so there’s no reason to believe he can’t work on these issues.
New Orleans hosts West-leading Minnesota on Dec. 12. Can Zion bounce back from his shocker against Minnesota?