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Zion Williamson joins elite NBA company with career-best performance

NBA.com, Associated Press, Sky Sports NBA

Wednesday 12 February 2020 10:48, UK

Zion WIlliamson throws down a dunk against the Portland Trail Blazers 1:34
Zion Williamson fires for a career-high 31 points to lead the Pelicans to a resounding comeback win against the Trail Blazers

Zion Williamson topped 30 points for the first time in his NBA career as he led the New Orleans Pelicans to a 138-117 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

The 19-year-old Williamson, who had scored 20 points or more six times in his first eight professional games, finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 28 minutes.

Only four 19-year-olds have ever put up those numbers in an NBA game: LeBron James (three times), Kevin Durant and Luka Doncic (twice).

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Williamson is the first rookie since Dikembe Mutombo in 1991-92 to score at least 14 points in each of his first nine career NBA games.

He is the third player with seven 20-point games in his first 10 career games over the last 30 seasons, joining Grant Hill and Shaquille O'Neal.

Zion Williamson encourages his team-mates during the Pelicans' win over the Blazers
Image: Zion Williamson encourages his team-mates during the Pelicans' win over the Blazers

No 1 overall draft Williamson's explosiveness was on full display against the Trail Blazers. He mixed spinning dribbles and sudden baseline drives into his usual arsenal of soaring transition dunks and tenacious putbacks.

He used his 6ft 6in, 285lb frame, quick feet and explosive vertical to have his way with every defender Portland tried against him. Williamson was either too strong, too fast, or both.

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"I expect to make an impact but I don't expect to do nothing like this," Williamson said after the game. "I just kind of look to come in, just kind of fit in, just not try to mess up. But my team-mates and coaches are always pushing me.

"I do hold myself to high expectations, but I think it's just finding the line between reality and dreams," Williamson added.

"If my team-mates find me, they find me. If not, just got to make another play, get the rebound and just play defense."

Jaxson Hayes attacks the rim against Portland 1:54
Highlights of the Portland Trail Blazers' visit to the New Orleans Pelicans in Week 17 of the NBA season

"It is kind of scary to see how good he is this early," Williamson's team-mate Josh Hart said.

"I don't really think he is comparable to anyone that I have seen," Portland forward Carmelo Anthony said of Williamson. "Someone who is as powerful as that, who jumps like that… you can tell he is getting better and getting a feel for the game. "

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Williamson's big night helped New Orleans pull within one-and-a-half games of Portland in the Western Conference standings.

The Pelicans are 3-0 against the Blazers this season, which means they own the head-to-head tie-breaker.

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