Zion Williamson got the night off Saturday. The New Orleans Pelicans decided to rest their 23-year-old star in their second game in a 48-hour span.
On Monday, Williamson returned to the lineup looking rested. Williamson had a spring in his step as he sliced through the Sacramento Kings defense at will.
Williamson scored 18 points in the second quarter. His star running mate, Brandon Ingram, followed that up with 18 points in the third quarter.
Behind strong nights from both of their stars, the Pelicans blasted the Kings in a 129-93 win at home. Williamson and Ingram combined to score 57 points.
The Pelicans improved to 7-7. They have won three of their past four games, and they are 3-2 on their six-game home stand, the final leg of which is Wednesday in a rematch against the Kings.
“Both of those guys — Z and B.I. — they are capable of doing this night in and night out,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “It’s good to see them continue to grow and play off each other. Both those guys are great passers. Can see the game. Zion started it first. Just dominating. Then B.I. in the third quarter. Hitting 3s. Taking open shots.”
New Orleans trailed Sacramento by two points after the first quarter. Then Williamson took over, scoring eight baskets in the second quarter.
With less than one minute left in the first half, Williamson caught the ball near the baseline on the right side of the floor. He exploded past Kings forward Harrison Barnes as if Barnes was wearing shoes made of concrete. He got a left-handed layup to go down, which increased the Pelicans’ lead to 14 points.
In the third quarter, the Pelicans didn’t let up. They turned a comfortable lead into an enormous advantage. Stifling team defense and Ingram’s shot-making ability made it possible.
Ingram drained four 3-pointers in the third quarter. The most 3-pointers he had hit in a game before Monday was three. With 6:07 remaining, Ingram connected on a 24-footer, which put the Pelicans ahead by 30 points.
The Kings never made the game competitive in the second half. De’Aaron Fox, who came into Monday’s matchup averaging 31.9 points per game, was limited to 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Second-year guard Dyson Daniels was the primary defender on Fox for most of the night. Fox notched no assists.
“We didn’t allow him to play fast in transition,” Green said. “That’s one of his strengths. If you allow him to take the ball out, he’s catching it close to mid court. If he’s pushing, it’s hard to stop him.”
The Pelicans have a 3-1 record since they began starting Daniels and Herb Jones in the backcourt together. Jones had another standout performance, as he scored 18 points on nine shots to go along with seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and two blocks.
Guard CJ McCollum missed a seventh consecutive game with a collapsed right lung. Green said there is still no timetable for his return.
“They are still working it out with the doctors,” Green said. “They want to make sure CJ gets to the floor healthy and safely. They are still working those things out. Once they give us his timeline, we will know more. Right now, he can work out. But it’s really in their hands.”
Right now, the Pelicans are surviving without him. New Orleans beat Sacramento by 36 points, which was its largest margin of victory of the season.