Pelicans’ Zion Williamson, who is 6-foot-7, says playing point guard ‘feels natural’

For the 2nd straight video game on Sunday, New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball was sidelined with a left hip flexor pain.

That has actually provided the Pelicans the chance to utilize Zion Williamson, who is noted at 6-foot-7, as basically the point player and start the offense. Williamson has actually managed the brand-new responsibilities much better than might have been anticipated. In Sunday’s 116-109 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, he had 38 points, 9 rebounds and 4 helps. That followed Williamson’s 37-point, 15-rebound and career-high 8-assists effort in Friday’s 101-94 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

“We want to get him more experience at that spot going forward because I think that’s where his future is in this game,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy stated. “I really do.”

Considering That Williamson wasn’t the greatest gamer on his youth groups, his coaches concentrated on establishing his point player abilities. The additional work on ballhandling and passing were advantageous for Williamson, specifically after he grew from 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-6 in between 8th and 10th grade.

And now the Pelicans are benefitting too.

“It just feels natural to me,” Williamson stated. “I’ve been playing the game since I was 4. At this point, it just feels natural. I’m still learning. But certain things just do feel natural.”

The Pelicans are using Zion Williamson as a point guard in the past two games and he has responded by scoring 37 and 38 points.

The Pelicans are utilizing Zion Williamson as a point player in the previous 2 video games and he has actually reacted by scoring 37 and 38 points.

While the Pelicans began to utilize Williamson in the point player function in February, Friday’s video game marked a huge distinction. He was their main ball handler throughout the video game versus the Sixers rather of simply managing the ball after getting a rebound and pressing it up or the group going with it off off dead balls and complimentary tosses.

Naturally, a great deal of that needed to do with Ball being out for the ninth time in the previous 12 video games since of an aching hip. Even with Ball anticipated to return today, it appears the Pelicans will continue starting the offense with Williamson.

“He just needs reps and more and more and we’ve increased it throughout the year giving him more and more opportunities,” Van Gundy stated. “We’d like to give him more going forward. We’ll try to build some more things for him.”

Williamson is balancing 26.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.6 helps while shooting 61.7% from the field this season.

Celtics’ impressive 31-3 run ends Nuggets’ streak

To state this season has actually been underwhelming for the Boston Celtics would be an understatement. They have a 28-26 record and hold the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.

However they have actually gradually staged a turn-around, winning 5 of their previous 6 video games. Their 105-87 win over the Denver Nuggets – the league’s most popular group – is the sort of video game that might speed up that turn-around.

They restricted the Nuggets to 8 points in the 4th quarter. Typically that would be the greatest story of the video game. However the contending story is that the Celtics went on a legendary 31-3 run.

The Celtics were routing 79-65 when Jaylen Brown scored on a driving layup with 1:31 staying in the 3rd quarter. By the time Grant Williams ended the run with a layup with 4:41 staying in the 4th quarter, the Celtics had a 96-82 lead. That efficiently put away the Nuggets and ended their eight-game win streak.

“We just needed something to get us going,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens stated. “You know, I thought we were close to going the other way there when it was 76-62.”

Brown and Jayson Tatum and sustained the resurgence. Tatum ended up with 28 points 2 days after a career-best 53-point efficiency versus Minnesota, and Brown had 20.

Heat’s defense concerns the rescue

The Miami Heat hear all the speak about the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks being the groups probably to emerge from the East. The Heat’s message has actually been: Don’t forget us.

Despite the fact that they will lack brand-new acquisition Victor Oladipo for their four-game Western Conference swing, they start the essential journey with a 107-98 win Sunday in Portland. It was the Heat’s 6th win in their previous 7, which followed a season-high six-game losing skid.

Miami understands it will need to ride its vaunted defense into another NBA Finals look. And, excuse the pun, Miami showed up the heat defensively versus the Path Sports jackets. The Heat required turnovers on the Blazers’ very first 3 ownerships of the video game, squashing the Blazes’ pick-and-rolls and setting a tone. By halftime, the Blazers had 12 turnovers, and the Heat had 20 points off those turnovers. The Blazers average 11.1 turnovers, the second-lowest in the league behind the Spurs’ 11.0.

“We know on the road we have to be able to defend at a high level,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra stated. “Our defense has to travel. It’s a key to our success.”

Comparing DeMar DeRozan to Kobe Bryant

DeMar DeRozan struck the tiebreaking jumper with 0.5 seconds left, providing San Antonio a 119-117 triumph over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday stopping the Spurs’ five-game losing streak.

After Luka Doncic scored on a 10-foot floater with 19 2nd staying to connect the video game, DeRozan happened a screen however still had simply one protector on him in Dorian Finney-Smith as Doncic removed the play. DeRozan struck a step-back 20-footer.

That led Spurs guard Dejounte Murray to compare DeRozan to Kobe Bryant, stating, “Shoot, if they double, we want him to take it. Kobe would have taken it with five guys on him – take that (bleep).”

Video game of the night: 76ers at Mavericks

The Sixers start their most substantial week of the routine season with Monday’s video game at Dallas. The Sixers are connected with the Internet for the leading area in the Eastern Conference, however their stretch of video games over the next 2 weeks might identify how long they can remain there. After Monday’s video game at Dallas, they return house for a four-game set versus the Internet (Wednesday), the Clippers (Friday), Warriors ((April 19) and the Suns (April 21) prior to taking a trip for a set of video games at Milwaukee (April 22 and 24). Naturally, the Sixers’ video game versus the Mavericks on Monday won’t be a cinch. Dallas has 6 wins in its previous 8 video games. They are now 29-23 after a COVID-related 8-13 start. And Monday might mark the Mavericks launching of JJ Redick, who was gotten in a trade due date offer with the Pelicans.

This short article initially appeared on U.S.A. TODAY: Zion Williamson states playing point player ‘simply feels natural’

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.