Zion Williamson gets begin for Pelicans as NBA restarts

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5:44 PM ET

New Orleans Pelicans rookie forward Zion Williamson was cleared to play by the team and started in Thursday night’s NBA restart opener against the Utah Jazz in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Coach Alvin Gentry told reporters that Williamson had to go through his pregame warm-ups before the team made a decision.

About Williamson
Williamson may refer to:

Zion Williamson gets start for Pelicans as NBA restarts

About Pelicans
Pelicans are a genus of large water birds that make up the family Pelecanidae. They are characterised by a long beak and a large throat pouch used for catching prey and draining water from the scooped-up contents before swallowing. They have predominantly pale plumage, the exceptions being the brown and Peruvian pelicans. The bills, pouches, and bare facial skin of all species become brightly coloured before the breeding season. The eight living pelican species have a patchy global distribution, ranging latitudinally from the tropics to the temperate zone, though they are absent from interior South America and from polar regions and the open ocean.
Long thought to be related to frigatebirds, cormorants, tropicbirds, and gannets and boobies, pelicans instead are now known to be most closely related to the shoebill and hamerkop, and are placed in the order Pelecaniformes. Ibises, spoonbills, herons, and bitterns have been classified in the same order. Fossil evidence of pelicans dates back at least 30 million years to the remains of a beak very similar to that of modern species recovered from Oligocene strata in France. They are thought to have evolved in the Old World and spread into the Americas; this is reflected in the relationships within the genus as the eight species divide into Old World and New World lineages.
Pelicans frequent inland and coastal waters, where they feed principally on fish, catching them at or near the water surface. They are gregarious birds, travelling in flocks, hunting cooperatively, and breeding colonially. Four white-plumaged species tend to nest on the ground, and four brown or grey-plumaged species nest mainly in trees. The relationship between pelicans and people has often been contentious. The birds have been persecuted because of their perceived competition with commercial and recreational fishing. Their populations have fallen through habitat destruction, disturbance, and environmental pollution, and three species are of conservation concern. They also have a long history of cultural significance in mythology, and in Christian and heraldic iconography.

He was expected to play in “short bursts” but had no solid minutes restriction.

Williamson made an appearance on the court shortly after Gentry relayed the news, sitting in a chair courtside for about five minutes before starting a short warm-up routine. He drove to the basket a few times, then shot a few free throws, and then missed on a number of corner 3-pointers, air-balling his first before eventually making one.

Zion Williamson gets start for Pelicans as NBA restarts

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He then went back to the bench, watched video for a few minutes and retreated to the locker room.

When Williamson returned in January from the knee injury that sidelined him for the first 43 games of the season, the team used similar terminology to describe his playing limitations. Williamson played 18 minutes in his first game, checking out after a 17-point outburst in the fourth quarter of his debut and just under 21 minutes in his second outing. He averaged 30.1 minutes per game in his five contests following that.

Williamson left the team for a family medical emergency on July 16 and didn’t return until eight days later. Once he was back on the NBA campus, he was in quarantine for four days, putting him at 12 days without team activity.

He was officially listed on the team’s injury report as questionable (reconditioning).

In 19 games this season, Williamson averaged 23.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Information from ESPN’s Tim Bontemps was used in this report.