Remember when we all thought there was a legitimate possibility that Zion Williamson would sit out his entire first season on an NBA roster?
Those days now feel like ancient history, as the dominant 19-year-old continues to impose his will on the league.
The Pelicans are looking to make a run at the final playoff seed in the Western Conference, though, on this night, a career-high 32 points went to waste, as the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up a big 123-118 road win.
The Zion highlight factory continues to produce
Williamson finished with 32 points and 6 rebounds, as he continues to put his name among some elite company when it comes to former No. 1 overall picks in their opening stretch of appearances.
Zion Williamson is now over 200 points (and counting) through 10 career games...- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 14, 2020
Over the last 30 seasons, the only former No. 1 picks to score 200 points within their first 10 career games are Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal (238 in 1992-93) and Allen Iverson (224 in 1996-97). pic.twitter.com/kDPrJec0nu
As usual, the highlights came in thick and fast, with none better than an absurd block early in the second quarter.
Abdel Nader looked like he had found a slither of a lane to the basket with Williamson caught with his back to the ball, only for the Pelicans star to turn, jump and spike the ball into the front row in a split second.
RETURNED TO SENDER ‼️ 📨 @Zionwilliamson pic.twitter.com/ASUKXFGl1U- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 14, 2020
Gallinari delivers in the clutch
The Thunder were widely predicted to be major players on trade deadline day when the season tipped off way back in October.
After trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the franchise appeared set for a full blown rebuild with a number of veterans on the roster who would hold great appeal to contenders as the run to the playoffs heated up.
Instead, they have surprised many to sit firmly in the playoff picture, holding down the seventh seed with those veteran players fueling the surge.
Strong move from @gallinari8888 - 29 points (12-18 from the field). #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/M7pM8JYTfU- OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 14, 2020
On this night, Danilo Gallinari was immense, pouring in 29 points on 12-for-18 shooting, including 3-for-5 from beyond the 3-point line.
With the Pelicans holding a 111-110 edge with 4:10 to play, Gallinari took over.
First it was a stepback for two, then a triple, and then two more points at the free-throw line, and all of a sudden the Thunder had gained control.
When it was all said and done, Gallinari scored nine of his 29 points in the game's final 3:52 and the Thunder walked off the floor with an important road win.
The Steven Adams shimmy
Heading into this game, Steven Adams had appeared in 515 regular season games.
In those 515 games, the big man from New Zealand had attempted and missed a total of nine shots from behind the 3-point line.
With the seconds ticking down before halftime, Adams jogged up the floor after inbounding the ball.
With the defense pressuring Chris Paul, he flicked the ball back to Adams who had no other option but to launch the ball at the basket.
He chose to do it in casual fashion, with one hand, and naturally the ball hit nothing but net.
Can't decide what's more impressive: tossing a basketball one-handed with an effortless flick of the wrist from 70 feet out.....- OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 14, 2020
....or those shimmy skills. 😍 @RealStevenAdams | #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/ToiifxKjZ1
As if he had been prepared for the moment his whole life, Adams immediately launched into a Step Curry-esque shimmy, much to the delight of his Thunder teammates.
Adams is now a 10 percent career shooter from three, the only question that remains is whether or not he becomes a half court specialist from this point on....
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