In just his third NBA game, Zion Williamson recorded the first double-double and the first victory of his young career as the New Orleans Pelicans snapped their two-game skid with a 123-108 win over the Boston Celtics.
Williamson finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists, shooting 9-of-16 from the field in just 27 minutes on court.
Jrue Holiday led five players in double figures with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Brandon Ingram added 16 points and Derrick Favors 15 points and 10 rebounds.
JJ Redick added 17 points off the bench, as the Pels outscored the Celtics bench 38-8 on the night. Lonzo Ball was at his playmaking best, dishing out a career-high 15 assists to go with eight points and six rebounds, becoming just the 13th player in Pelicans franchise history to record at least 15 assists in a game.
Lonzo lobs it up to Favors and he's at 1️⃣4️⃣ assists on the night! pic.twitter.com/btjSW0OuUe- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 27, 2020
The Celtics got off to a slow start and struggled to recover thanks to a 7-of-24 (29.2 percent) shooting performance in the first quarter, as well as four turnovers as the Pelicans took a 32-20 lead.
After going scoreless in the opening period, Kemba Walker reeled off seven-straight points to cut the deficit to single digits, but the Pelicans' ferocious work on the offensive glass helped them take a 20-point half-time lead, punishing the Celtics with multiple second-chance opportunities while holding them to just seven points over the final six minutes of the quarter.
Without Jayson Tatum (groin) and Enes Kanter (hip), the Celtics just didn't have the size to compete as the Pelicans grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the first half.
Walker rallied the Celtics in the second half, scoring 23 of his 35 points after the break, going 10-of-24 from the field, adding five rebounds and four assists on the night.
Gordon Hayward added 23 points, Jaylen Brown 20, while Daniel Theis chipped in 15 points and nine rebounds, but it wasn't enough to extend their three-game win streak.
While the Pelicans were in control in the middle, they also had it going from beyond the arc, draining 16-of-36 (44.4 percent) from deep, compared to the Celtics who managed just 8-of-33 (25 percent).
The Pelicans finished with 18 offensive rebounds on the night, including seven from Williamson, who was relentless at the rim. His three-point play with less than two minutes remaining put the result beyond doubt.
💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/HB8WsBTs4b- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 27, 2020
With the win, the Pelicans improve to 18-29 on the season as they look to crack into playoff contention, while the Celtics sit fourth in the East at 30-15.
Following the news of Kobe Bryant's death, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, both teams honoured the Los Angeles Lakers legend with 24-second violations to open the game.
The New Orleans Pelicans and the Boston Celtics started the game by each taking 24-second shot-clock violations in honor of Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/AA3ntFpLtc- NBA (@NBA) January 27, 2020
"Kobe meant a lot to me growing up," Williamson said post-game.
"I mean, that's tough man, I was on the way to the arena when I got the news. I just send my prayers to his family. You just hate to see what happened to him and his daughter and just hope the world will give the Bryant family all the support they need.
.@Zionwilliamson speaks on the impact Kobe Bryant had on him growing up & the legacy he leaves behind pic.twitter.com/262dy3tsNg- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) January 27, 2020
"One of the greatest taken away from us too soon, but his impact will forever be a part of this game. He's a legend, legends never die and he'll forever be remembered."