The New Orleans Pelicans dropped their first game of the season in a one-point overtime loss against the undefeated Utah Jazz on Sunday. But more importantly, starters Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson exited the game with injuries.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson is seen here grimacing in pain after he fell on a failed dunk attempt against the Utah Jazz at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. (Image: Stephen Lew/USA Today Sports)
The Pelicans and Jazz met in a battle of 2-0 teams. If either Ingram or Williamson were available down the stretch, especially in overtime, it would’ve drastically increased the Pelicans’ chances of defeating the Jazz to maintain their undefeated record. The rag-tag Jazz prevailed and improved to 3-0.
The Pelicans had high expectations this season, with Williamson returning to the starting lineup after missing the entirety of last season with a fractured foot.
Loyal fans in New Orleans know that their postseason aspirations are tethered to the health of Williamson. When the former #1 pick in the NBA Draft is healthy, there’s no doubt on his playing abilities as one of the most dynamic power forwards in the league.
Williamson has been plagued with injuries since his rookie season. It only took until the third game of the new season before Williamson went down with a new injury, and the Pelicans’ most-jaded fans wondered, “Here we go again.”
Zion Down with Hip Contusion
With eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Williamson blocked a shot from Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, which created a fast-break opportunity. Williamson drove the lane to throw down a dunk. But Clarkson caught up from behind and got his hand on the ball. Williamson missed the dunk and crashed hard to the floor.
Unfortunate play,” said Pelicans teammate CJ McCollum said. “Jordan made a play on the ball and Zion obviously fell and hit his back.”
Williamson wanted to remain in the game, but he was clearly slowed down by the fall.
“Hopefully, he’s back sooner than later,” added McCollum. “That’s a lot of weight, a lot of energy, a lot of athleticism coming down.”
Head coach Willie Green subbed in Herbert Jones to replace Williamson. He refused to go to the locker room to get checked out by the training staff. Green did not put him back into the game, even when it headed into overtime.
The Pelicans were up by 14 points when Williamson went down with the injury. Without Williamson, they blew the double-digit lead.
After the loss, the Pelicans said that Williamson suffered a posterior hip contusion.
Williamson averages 22 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season. He scored 25 points and hauled down six rebounds in 30 minutes of action before his hip injury.
Jordan Clarkson DENIED Zion Williamson pic.twitter.com/grkeVuTBwe
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) October 24, 2022
Ingram in Concussion Protocol
Ingram scored 28 points in his first two games of the season while knocking down a sizzling 60% of his 3-point shots. The swingman had a hot start against the Jazz, scoring 10 points in the first quarter.
Late in the first quarter, Ingram collided with teammate Naji Marshall during a steal attempt and got dinged in the head.
A dazed Ingram sat on the bench for the first half of the second quarter before he returned to the game with six minutes to go before halftime. He was on the court for less than a minute before Green took him out. Medical staff accompanied him to the locker room where he was evaluated for a concussion.
The future status of Ingram and Williamson is unknown. Backup guard Devonte’ Graham (2.3 ppg) could start in place of Ingram if he misses any time. Larry Nance, Jr. (6.7 ppg, 6.0 rebounds) is currently listed as the backup power forward behind Williamson on the depth chart.
The Pelicans host the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday in a Southwest Division matchup. After the Mavs game, the Pelicans play six of their next seven games on the road. They head out west at the end of the week for a three-game stretch against the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, and L.A. Lakers.
At the end of the preseason, the Pelicans were +4000 odds to win the 2023 NBA title, according to DraftKings. After the first week of the season, the Pelicans improved to +3000 odds to win the championship.
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