Zion makes NBA debut as Pelicans look to make playoff push

Jude Papillion, Staff Reporter

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The midpoint of the 2019-2020 NBA season has passed and the New Orleans Pelicans have a dismal 18-29 record. The Pelicans are currently 4.5 games behind the Western Conference eighth seed Memphis Grizzlies. 

Around the league, the Los Angeles Lakers have a 3.5 game lead for first place in the Western Conference, followed by the Jazz, Clippers, and Nuggets. In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks have an impressive eight game lead over the second place Toronto Raptors, followed by the Heat and Celtics. 

After missing the first 44 games of the season due to a knee injury, No.1 overall pick in the 2019 draft Zion Williamson made his NBA and Pelicans debut against the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 22. Williamson had a late surge in the fourth quarter, in which he scored 17 consecutive points and shot 4-4 from the three-point line in 3 minutes and 29 seconds. 

Czars Trinidad | Senior Staff Artist

Williamson’s 22 total points, however, were not enough as the Pelicans fell to the Spurs 121-117. The Pelicans lost in Zion’s second game in a close 113-106 battle with the Denver Nuggets before earning back-to-back double-digit wins against the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. 

While the Pelicans struggled early, they are 13-7 in their last 20 games and are looking to make a strong playoff push with their new star player in the second half of the season. 

The Pelicans have one remaining matchup with the Eastern Conference’s first place Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 4. The Pelicans will face the Western Conference’s first place Los Angeles Lakers two more times with an away game on Feb. 25 and a home game back in the Smoothie King Center on Mar. 1. 

Other notable games remaining include a trip to Houston on Feb. 2 and a trip to Utah on Mar. 13 followed by a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers the next day. The Pelicans’ regular season will conclude in San Antonio on Apr. 15.