PREVIEW: Scoring sensation Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans set for Boston Celtics

Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) gestures in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Zion Williamson is routinely accomplishing feats that link him to NBA legends.

He has scored more than 20 points in 23 consecutive games, making him the only player younger than 21 to do that.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle described the second-year forward as “a Shaquille O’Neal-type force of nature with a point-guard skill set” after Williamson had 38 points in a win over the Mavericks on Saturday.

“It’s an honor to hear my name in those categories, but I am who I am: Zion,” Williamson said. “I’m trying to be the first and only Zion. That’s all there is to it.”

Williamson and the Pelicans’ next game is against the Celtics on Monday night in Boston.

His point total against Dallas was one less than the career-high he had in a loss to Denver on Friday.

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“Honestly, I was just making reads,” Williamson said. “If the driving lane was there, I was going to go, but I also used that to my advantage when it came to passing, because I’ve got great shooters around me who are very confident, so I made the pass and they executed off of it.”

Nickeil Alexander-Walker was one of the players who executed off Williamson’s efforts, scoring 20 points on Saturday. Williamson scored or assisted on the Pelicans’ final 14 points.

“Every read, he’s just making the reads and of course he’s doing Zion things,” Alexander-Walker said. “At this point in time, I’m not surprised. He’s a great player and very unselfish, and he made winning plays.”

Williamson had 28 points and 10 rebounds to support Brandon Ingram’s 33 points in a 120-115 overtime victory over the visiting Celtics on Feb. 21. New Orleans overcame a 24-point deficit for the largest comeback win in franchise history.

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Boston had a winning comeback of its own in a 111-94 victory at Oklahoma City on Saturday.

The Thunder led 80-76 after three quarters, but the Celtics went on a 19-0 run early the fourth quarter and finished with a 35-14 edge in the period. Boston made 56 percent of its shots and Oklahoma City made 5-of-17 shots in the final period.

“We feel good,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said. “We don’t feel great. We don’t feel like — we’re not complacent. We’re not done. We’re not satisfied. This is just a start for us.”

The victory followed another in Milwaukee on Friday as Boston concluded a four-game trip on a winning note after losing five of six.

“This was one where we had to find a way because we can’t keep going back and forth,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We’ve got to establish some momentum here.”

Jayson Tatum scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half and Jaylen Brown added 25 points.

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“We’ve got a lot of talent out here individually, but that’s not going to beat anybody,” Smart said. “That’s not going to beat teams. Teams are getting better, teams are good, teams are doing their homework.”

Monday’s game, which starts a seven-game homestand, is the first Celtics home game this season in which a limited number of spectators will be allowed.

“We have our fans coming in,” Smart said. “It’s time for us to go out there and play Celtics basketball and make this run.”

–Field Level Media