clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pelicans lose Zion Williamson to right hamstring injury, fall 120-111 to 76ers

A tough day at the office

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

They say that some losses are tougher than others. Well, Monday’s 120-111 defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers must have felt like a gut punch for the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Pelicans were battling themselves for much of the first half and had no answers for the unstoppable force that is Joel Embiid, but yet after trailing by as many as 15 points, a Naji Marshall 3-pointer gave them a slim 81-80 lead with 1:25 left in the third quarter. Not a minute later, Zion Williamson had to leave the game after coming up hobbled on a transition opportunity.

We soon learned Williamson had suffered a right hamstring strain and his night was over.

“That was extremely difficult,” Willie Green said. “It was right at a pivotal moment during the game. We’ll get some imaging and look at him, but hopefully, he’s OK. It was a tough loss for us.”

The Pelicans hung tough without their leading scorer for most of the fourth quarter though, even cutting a double-digit deficit to 110-107 after a CJ McCollum 3-pointer, but the 76ers proceeded to pull away for the win.

Embiid was spectacular. He scored 13 of the 76ers’ first 18 points and never let off the gas. He finished with 42 points on 15 of 24 shooting, adding 11 rebounds, five assists and two threes.

Jonas Valanciunas and Willy Hernangomez were unable to slow down the Philly MVP candidate. Later, when the Pelicans tried a little zone defense to get the ball out of his hands, other 76ers stepped up.

The second-largest turning point came immediately after McCollum’s big 3 made it a one possession game. Tyrese Maxey missed a running layup, but the ball bounced right into the hands of De’Anthony Melton, who promptly knocked home a 3-ball. After a Herb Jones slam, James Harden drilled another 3. McCollum failed to convert a floater with less than a minute left, which ended all realistic hopes of emerging with a victory.

The biggest reason for New Orleans’ first-half hole was turnovers. In the first quarter alone, they committed seven miscues that led to 15 points for Philadelphia.

“The first quarter and a half, we just turned the ball over,” Green said. “We had 11 at half and finished the game with 17. So we did a much better job in the second half. I thought that was the difference. Our offense got better because we took care of the basketball, we played fast and we got good shots.”

Unlike in their previous loss to the Grizzlies, the Pelicans shot the ball well (50 FG% and 37.9 3PT%), and beat the 76ers in points in the paint (52-40) and on the fastbreak (24-22). They came within a bounce of making this outcome really interesting.

Alas, now all thoughts are with Zion Williamson and whether he evaded serious injury or not.

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.