Zion Williamson on Monday produced a dominant performance as the New Orleans Pelicans upset the league-leading Utah Jazz with a 129-124 victory.
Pelicans prodigy Williamson finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to give New Orleans a deserved victory over the Western Conference-leading Jazz.
It was the sort of display from the 20-year-old Williamson that made him one of the most coveted young players in years when he was snapped up by New Orleans two years ago with the No.1 pick in the draft.
Against Utah on Monday, the 2m, 129kg powerhouse used his physique and skill to barrel through the Jazz defense.
Utah had led by nine points in the second period, but were left trailing by 17 early in the fourth quarter as the Pelicans cut loose.
Although Utah closed to within one point with 47 seconds remaining, two Williamson free throws restored the Pelicans’ three-point cushion before Josh Hart added the coup de grace after Mike Conley missed for Utah.
Williamson’s scoring tally was matched by Brandon Ingram, who also finished with 26 points, while four other Pelicans players cracked double digits.
Point guard Lonzo Ball added 23 points, while J.J. Redick had 17 off the bench including three of four three-pointers.
Utah’s scoring was led by Bojan Bogdanovic, who finished with 31 points, while Rudy Gobert had 22 points and Donovan Mitchell 21.
The contest pivoted in the third quarter, when the Pelicans erupted for 40 points.
“We find ourselves in situations like this all the time,” Williamson said afterward. “It’s a matter of want, and tonight we wanted it more. We came out with better energy in the third quarter and got the win.”
The Pelicans improved to 15-19 and are now 11 in the Western Conference standings. Leaders Utah fell to 27-8 following the loss, but remain three games clear of the second-placed Los Angeles Lakers.
Meanwhile, Joel Embiid scored 24 points and hauled down 13 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers bounced back from their shock weekend defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers with an emphatic win over the Indiana Pacers.
Embiid added five assists and two turnovers in a dominant 130-114 victory over the Pacers that improved the Sixers to 23-12 at the top of the Eastern Conference.
In Texas, Kyrie Irving and James Harden helped the Brooklyn Nets overcome a late San Antonio Spurs rally in a thrilling 124-113 overtime win at the AT&T Center.
The Nets are now within half a game of the Sixers with 23 wins and 13 losses.
TAKE TWO: Tainan TSG are the favorites going into this season, which starts on Sunday. They have fearsome forwards and national ’keeper Pan Wen-chieh between the posts Defending champions Tainan TSG (Taiwan Steel Group) face a tough challenge from their southern neighbors Taipower and CPC FC when the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) season starts this weekend with four matches on Sunday. Promoting grassroots soccer, and organizing relegation and promotion between the top and second divisions last year was important for the progression of Taiwanese soccer, CTFA chairman Chiou I-jen told a news conference in Taipei yesterday. “We are going in the right direction ... and becoming more competitive” for international competitions, Chiou said. Still the favorites, Tainan TSG have the league’s most fearsome forwards, with three international star players.
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After several humbling losses to the West Division leaders, the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday sent quite the message to the Colorado Avalanche in their last of eight regular-season matchups. Eight was more than enough for the Wild to slow the Avalanche. Kevin Fiala notched his first career hat-trick, while Kirill Kaprizov had two of Minnesota’s three power-play goals as the sharp-shooting Wild beat Colorado 8-3 to hand the Avalanche their first regulation loss in 16 games. “We can play against you guys,” Fiala said. “If we’re going to meet them in the playoffs.” Luke Johnson, Ryan Hartman and Joel Eriksson Ek also scored as