In what seemed like a rare occurrence last season, the Pelicans got a look at a full lineup in their opening road win over the Grizzlies. That meant not just guard CJ McCollum and forward Brandon Ingram, but yes, former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, too.
Williamson not only played his first game since Jan. 2, but scored 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He threw in a couple of nasty dunks for good measure.
“For me, I think it’s going to be a few games,” he said, via Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “Just getting that in-game flow back. No matter how much I work out, train, play pickup, it’s nothing like a real NBA game.”
- Newcomer Matt Ryan, signed to a two-way deal last week, made an immediate impact by hitting three 3-pointers in two-and-half minutes. “It was huge for us,” coach Willie Green said. “It kind of shifted the momentum. We are going to need those guys to continue to hit big shots for us. If you’re open, fire that thing up.”
The Grizzlies suggested they’re not overly concerned after dropping their season opener to the Pelicans at home. This despite the fact center Steven Adams is out for the year and suspended star Ja Morant will miss the first 25 games.
“We’re still trying to figure it out,” forward Ziaire Williams said, via Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “It’s still early. Still trying to figure out our new offense, getting more chemistry with the new guys and stuff like that. We’re not stressed. We’ll figure it out.”
Coach Taylor Jenkins added similar sentiments. “I’m not worried about the result, I’m worried about how we play,” he said.
- As Cole wrote, “any team that has had this kind of turnover and is missing multiple key rotational players should be given a grace period.” You can check out his full story here.
The first game without Damian Lillard didn’t go so well, as the Blazers fell on the road to the Clippers. But there was some promise, as guard Malcolm Brogdon came off the bench to score 20 points, guard Anfernee Simons had 18 and rookie Scoot Henderson debuted with 11.
- Henderson said he was able to not be bothered by his rocky start by keeping a “next-play mentality.”
- Clippers forward Paul George even said that Henderson will be fine. “This is not a game to judge him on,” George said, via Bill Oram of the Oregonian. “It was his first game. He’s a hell of a talent. You can tell he’s going to be good.”