HomeBasketball TodayZion Williamson Steps Up to Face Kawhi Leonard in Crunch Time Showdown...

Zion Williamson Steps Up to Face Kawhi Leonard in Crunch Time Showdown Against Clippers

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Zion Williamson was a monster on both ends of the court during the Pelicans’ big win over the Clippers on Friday night.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers engaged in a hard-fought battle on Friday night in a game that could have playoff-seeding implications. In the end, it was the Pelicans who pulled out the victory against a shorthanded Clippers team that was on the second night of a back-to-back, 112-104, thanks in large part to the dominance of Zion Williamson.

Williamson has demolished the Clippers in the past, and Friday night was no different; the Pelicans star put up 34 points on 14-21 shooting from the field, with LA struggling to contain his rampaging drives to the rim. But it wasn’t just on the offensive end where Williamson took responsibility. Near the end of the contest, Williamson took it upon himself to defend Kawhi Leonard, helping the Pelicans secure the victory despite some late pushes from their opponents.

“In the moment, I felt like I was the better matchup defensively. Defensive coach (Jarron Collins) said, ‘Nah, you matching up with Kawhi,’ and I said, ‘I got you.’ We had a mix-up on a matchup the play before. Trey was looking around and I said, ‘Nah I got him,’” Williamson said in his postgame presser, via Pelicans Film Room on Twitter.

Zion Williamson’s initiative to take on the Kawhi Leonard matchup in the dying embers of the game is remarkable; this shows that the Pelicans star’s conditioning has improved leaps and bounds that he can still take on the opponent’s best player on the defensive end with the game winding down.

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Williamson’s defensive emergence is key; with Herb Jones on Paul George, the Pelicans needed another defender to make sure Leonard did not get the Clippers rolling in the clutch. Trey Murphy was initially the one slated to take on the challenge, but Williamson asserted himself.

“At the end of the game I was like, ‘I got Kawhi’ and he said, ‘Nah I got him.’ I was like, ‘Hey man I’m not gonna fight you on that one.’ That’s what you want out of your stars, you want them to take on the challenge. And he understands what time it is,” Murphy said.

With the postseason set to begin in a little over a month, Zion Williamson may be peaking at exactly the right time.

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About the Author

Jedd Pagaduan is a certified Clippers and Gunners fan, which means he’s a very sports-traumatized individual. He now writes about sports instead as a form of therapy.


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