New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson sent a message with a game-ending dunk in Friday's 128-117 win over the Phoenix Suns:
The Suns seemingly took offense to the big dunk when the game was already decided on Friday, with Chris Paul and Cameron Payne among those arguing with Pelicans players after the final whistle.
Williamson explained his mindset on the dunk after the game, per ESPN's Andrew Lopez:
"That was a little out of character for me. But you've got to understand—I mean, you can understand it or not—they sent my teammates home last year.
"I missed all last year. I got carried away a little bit. I admit that. But you know, I was in that locker room when my brothers were down because the Suns sent us home last year. That's a tough moment to be a part of. So, in that moment, I got carried away. I admit that. ... If they were to do the same thing, I wouldn't have no problem with it."
Phoenix had eliminated New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs last season, although Williamson missed the series after being out all year with a foot injury.
Williamson has been a difference-maker upon his return, averaging a team-high 24.5 points per game to go with 7.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He scored 35 points on 13-of-17 from the field in Friday's win as the Pelicans improved to 17-8, the best record in the Western Conference.
The latest victory not only helped avenge last year's playoff loss, it was a statement against the team that finished last year as the No. 1 seed in the West.
New Orleans lost its first game of the year in Phoenix, but Friday's win served as redemption in front of the home fans at the Smoothie King Center.
There is also already some tension between the two sides, including with guards Jose Alvarado and Chris Paul, as Alvarado alluded to after the game.
It's understandable for Williamson to emphasize the emotional win with a monster dunk.
Of course, the two teams play again on Sunday before traveling to Phoenix on Dec. 17 for the final matchup of the year between the two sides. There could be some retaliation in the coming games if the Suns are able to get the upper hand in those contests.