Alvin Gentry Wouldn't Have Pulled Zion in Pelicans Debut 'If I Wasn't Told To'

Blake SchusterContributor IIIJanuary 23, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 22: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots a 3-point shot against the San Antonio Spurs on January 22, 2020 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

Count New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry among those who wanted to see 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson continue his fourth-quarter hot streak during his regular-season NBA debut against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. 

However, that decision wasn't in his hands.

"I'm not the brightest coach in the world, but I wouldn't have taken him out if I wasn't told to," Gentry said following the 121-117 loss to the Spurs. 

Williamson finished the night with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes. He went 4-of-4 from behind the arc as the Pelicans try to ease him back into the rotation following a preseason knee injury. At one point, the Duke product rattled off 17 straight points and briefly gave New Orleans a lead.

Although those in attendance at the Smoothie King Center were chanting for more Zion down the stretch, Gentry didn't dare overrule his training staff. 

"He couldn't go back in the game, so don't go there," Gentry chuckled in his postgame press conference. "The medical people said that was it." 

Williamson will be re-evaluated Thursday morning, but Gentry said "there's no reason for me to believe he won't be fine."

As for how he felt Williamson performed, he relayed what he told the rookie phenom at halftime.

"I wanted him to be aggressive. You can see there's a lot of things we can do with him. There's a lot of potential there. There's a really, really high ceiling that he could reach.

"It's his first NBA game, but the third time he went out there, I thought he was much more comfortable and aggressive. He found out that everybody makes mistakes and continued to play through it."

The Pelicans are back in action on Jan. 24 against the Denver Nuggets. Barring a setback, Williamson will get another chance to dazzle both his coach and fans across the league.  

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