New Orleans Pelicans

Why New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson didn't play down the stretch of Utah Jazz loss

New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson played just 15 minutes in the team's 106-104 loss to the Utah Jazz, the opening game of the NBA season restart at Disney World in Orlando.

TAKEAWAYS: Mitchell takes over as Jazz edge Pelicans in thrilling opener

He scored the Pelicans' first bucket of the game on his way to 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting but was on the bench for the final seven minutes, exiting the game with his team leading by four points.

"They weren't holding me back," Williamson said postgame. "Yeah, I did want to be out there, but we're just working my way back into my flow. That's all it is."

Williamson's availability for the game was in question after he missed all three of their scrimmage games, completing four days of quarantine after he left the bubble for an urgent family matter.

"We wish we could have played Zion down the stretch," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said postgame.

"But he had used the minutes that had been given to us. That's just the way it is. We weren't going to stick him back out there. Our medical team said we played for us to play him."

"I thought he looked good. I thought he had some good moments, and obviously, we're a much better and a much different basketball team when he's out on the floor."

Williamson showed no signs of rust, picking up right where he left off in tandem with Lonzo Ball.

He returned the favour in the third quarter, threading this slick behind-the-back dime to Ball for the easy two:

With the loss, the Pelicans fall to 28-37 on the season, sitting 4.0 games back of the eight seed Memphis Grizzlies. They face a tough test in their second game of the restart, with a showdown against the LA Clippers up next.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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