12:59 AM ET Andrew Lopez ESPN NEW YORK — Despite praise from teammates and coaches, Zion Williamson called his return to the regular season with the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night “a decent starter performance.” “There is room for improvement.” ,” he said. “I’m still learning my teammates. Now we have real in-game reps. We’re excited to grow.” He scored 25 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals in a 130-108 wire-to-wire Pelicans game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. It was an effort that was welcomed by his own team and even the opposing team. “I didn’t miss the beat,” said Williamson, Pelicans’ coach Willie Green. Brandon Ingram simply said, “We started where we left off.” And Nets striker Kevin Durant wasn’t surprised either. “He looked healthy and looked good,” Durant said. “He has 22 shots, 9 rebounds and 25 points. At this point, that’s typical for him.” Williamson said returning to the floor after missing the 2021-22 regular season was “a breath of fresh air”. broken foot. He said during the warm-up that he knew he had missed the charm of the away game and that it was another moment when he felt like things had finally returned to normal when the starting lineup was announced. All dogs come from inside the paint. In 86 games, according to ESPN Statistics and Intelligence, Williamson scored 20 or more points in 45 of those games. Giannis Antetokounmpo (74) is the only player to have more than 20 points in the paint since the start of the 2019-20 season despite missing time. No regular season matches after May 4, 2021. In fact, only Ingram and Naji Marshall have played in regular season matches against Williamson before, of the players who have seen them play against the Nets. And due to minor injuries, Williamson, Ingram, McCollum and Pelicans missed five starters in preseason. “This is probably the first time we’ve played together for more than 20 minutes, including practice,” McCollum said. “So it was good to see us gelling, and it was good to see us finding the shots and rhythm.” Ingram scored a team-high 28 points with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. McCollum had 21 points and 6 assists out of the Pelicans’ 31 assists. Green has always emphasized the movement of the ball, but with three players who can dominate the box score – Williamson, Ingram and McCollum – he emphasized it even more this season. According to Williamson, it’s helpful for all three fighters to have the same goal in mind. “I said it before in an interview, and I didn’t say it because I heard it good, I said it from the heart.” Everyone has the same goal and that is to win. And when you want to win, you put aside personal goals or personal things. That’s what we all do.” Ingram believes the game was a “good start” for the three and will be easier on the offensive side going forward.” It’s easier if you have smart players and talent. “You just have to go out and play.” “It was nice to see a lot of one-on-one players who couldn’t help much on the defensive side with a shooter and someone else who could make a player on the basketball court.” I admit I’m removing some rust.” Yes, in some scenes I think ‘okay’, and when it comes out I think ‘no’. But my teammates are there for me,” Williamson said. “They tell me to keep attacking, keep attacking, be yourself. So I mean, they’re in my corner, so my confidence will stay high.” Ben had a little more rust on the other bench on Wednesday. Simmons made his regular season Nets debut after not playing for Philadelphia or Brooklyn last season. He played 23 minutes against the Pelicans, scoring four points, five rebounds, and five assists, conceding a foul, Brooklyn manager Steve Nash said: “It just looks rusty.” Didn’t. He is still getting used to refereeing, defending and attacking. This is a course for Ben. I said it a lot and you heard me say it. He showed clear insight. We know he is and can do it, but it’s not easy. We are here to support him, to coach him and to take him to a place where he can play at the level he has played. In the past.” Simmons added, “There’s too much going on. To be honest, I think I’m just too excited. But it was really nice to go outside. As the first game, obviously you want to win, but we know why. I lost. There were many reasons for our loss and it was something we could fix. We know it’s not a team. It seems there was a lot of anxiety in the beginning, but it was good not to disturb it. “ESPN’s Nick Friedell contributed to this story.
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