LOS ANGELES, USA – Rookie Zion Williamson, who missed the last game with a sore ankle, scored a career-high 31 points as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, 138-117, on Tuesday, February 11 (Wednesday, February 12, Philippine time).
The 19-year-old Williamson also had 9 rebounds and 5 assists, while Josh Hart took advantage of a rare start by scoring 12 of his 17 points in the crucial 3rd quarter.
"I hold myself to high expectations, but I think it's just finding the line between reality and dreams," Williamson said. "If my teammates find me, they find me. If not, I just got to make another play, get the rebound and just play defense."
Williamson, the first pick in the 2019 NBA entry draft, missed the first 3 months of the season after suffering a knee injury in the offseason.
"I don't really think he's comparable to anyone that I have seen," Portland forward Carmelo Anthony said of Williamson. "Someone who is as powerful as that, who jumps like that. You can tell he's getting better."
New Orleans trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half before pulling to within two at halftime. They outscored the Blazers, 41-21, in the 3rd quarter to improve to 23-31 on the season.
Hart started in place of All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, who missed his second straight game because of a sprained ankle.
JJ Redick had 20 points off the bench, Jrue Holiday had 16 points and 10 assists, Frank Jackson scored 13 and Nicolo Melli had 10 in the win.
Damian Lillard has been the hottest player in the NBA but he was held to 20 points on Tuesday.
Heading into the game, Lillard was averaging 40 points over his last dozen contests. He missed all 4 of his three-point attempts.
CJ McCollum also had 20 points and Anthony had 18 points in the loss.