NEW YORK — — Zion Williamson resumed his attack on backboards and basketball gamers, leaving each on the mercy of his abilities and energy.
“It’s like he didn’t miss a beat,” New Orleans trainer Willie Green mentioned. “You just throw the ball to him and watch what he does.”
Williamson returned from a one-12 months absence with 25 issues and 9 rebounds, powering the Pelicans to a season-opening 130-108 rout of the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night time.
The No. 1 select within the 2019 draft seemed absolutely recovered and explosive after being sidelined with a damaged proper foot, and his addition to a roster that made the playoffs with out him may make the Pelicans a emerging staff within the Western Conference.
“Simply playing the game I love that I didn’t get to play for a long time just was a breath of fresh air,” Williamson mentioned.
Ben Simmons additionally returned to motion after a ignored season however had the misfortune of getting to hide Williamson for a lot of the transient time he used to be within the sport. He fouled out early within the fourth quarter with 4 issues, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, taking 3 photographs.
“It takes time,” Simmons said. “Having back surgery and being away from the game for a year there are little things that your mind might tell you to do something, but your body’s not wanting to do that.”
Brandon Ingram scored 28 issues and CJ McCollum had 21 for the Pelicans, who completed sturdy remaining season and opened impressively on this one. Jonas Valanciunas had 15 issues and 13 rebounds and New Orleans outrebounded Brooklyn 61-39.
“This is a grown man’s league and the most physical team wins and New Orleans came into this with an intent to show why they’re going to be in the hunt for championships over the next few years,” Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving mentioned.
Kevin Durant scored 32 issues however used to be in large part a one-guy display, and not using a different Nets participant in double figures till the general two mins of the 3rd quarter. Patty Mills had 16 issues and Irving controlled 15 on 6-for-19 taking pictures, going 0 for six from 3-level vary.
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Williamson used to be fast off his toes for rebounds and forceful along with his strikes into the paint, exhibiting his degree of athleticism that is uncommon even within the NBA. His basket-shaking dunk with about 8 1/2 mins final introduced probably the most few cheers from a dejected crowd who watched the house staff by no means lead and path through as many as 26.
It used to be already 7-0 sooner than Simmons made the primary basket of Brooklyn’s season. The Pelicans raced to a 20-4 lead and Williamson’s layup made it 32-14 after one.
It used to be 58-50 on the part sooner than Ingram scored 12 issues and Williamson added 11 on 5-for-6 taking pictures in a 40-level 3rd because the lead grew to 26 sooner than the Pelicans took a 98-78 result in the fourth.
It used to be a foul strategy to get started the season for a Nets staff that desperately desires to disregard the remaining one. A primary-spherical go out — when Simmons by no means performed as a result of again issues after being got for James Harden — gave strategy to a tumultuous offseason through which Durant requested to be traded and the Nets refused to present Irving a freelance extension, forcing him to select up his possibility for this one and making it imaginable it is his remaining in Brooklyn.
Pelicans: Green mentioned he may inform right through the Pelicans’ playoff run remaining season that Williamson had moved past the discontentment of damage rehab to pleasure for enjoying once more. “It’s very difficult going through injuries, especially when you’re really young and you’ve been working your tail off to try and be prepared to come in and help your team and you suffer a setback,” Green mentioned. “So he had to navigate through all of those things. Now coming back this offseason, he’s been in the gym all season and that smile is real.” … C Jaxson Hayes (torn elbow ligament) is “very close” to returning,” Green said.
Nets: Brooklyn was missing its two best outside shooters, with Joe Harris (sore left foot) and Seth Curry (left ankle) not ready for the start of the season. … Irving addressed the crowd before the start of the game and made a plea for the return of WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian prison. “Everybody do your job. Please bring our sister home,” Irving mentioned.
Pelicans: At Charlotte on Friday night time.
Nets: Host Toronto on Friday night time.