NEW ORLEANS — Zion Williamson ducked and smiled as celebrating New Orleans Pelicans teammates poured bottles of water over him. Moments later, Trey Muprhy III pretended to put a crown on Williamson’s head — a becoming gesture after a memorable recreation which, by the top, had coronation-type vitality about it.
The 22-year-old Williamson scored a career-high 43 factors, capping it with New Orleans’ last 14 factors within the final 2:44 of the sport, and the Pelicans outlasted the Minnesota Timberwolves 119-118 on Wednesday night time for his or her fourth straight victory.
“Individuals bear in mind winners,” the 22-year-old Williamson mentioned. “Once you take a look at among the biggest of all time, the very first thing you go to is championships, what they did in massive moments. And that’s what I need to be remembered as — a winner.
“I can’t simply sit right here and say I need to win. I’ve acquired to point out it,” added Williamson, who additionally credited teammate CJ McCollum for urging him on within the last minutes.
“CJ checked out me and mentioned, ‘You need to be nice, that is the second to do it.’”
Anthony Edwards, who scored 27 for Minnesota, missed a baseline fade for the win as time expired on a recreation by which the Wolves led a lot of the means, and by as many as 11 factors, earlier than dropping their fourth straight.
Zion Williamson, who scored 43 factors, goes up for a layup throughout the Pelicans’ win.NBAE by way of Getty Photographs
Minnesota coach Chris Finch lamented his workforce’s protection on Williamson within the second half that was “means too smooth.”
“We let him come operating at us, and he was capable of get a head of steam,” Finch mentioned. “When he does that, it’s robust.”
Williamson’s 3-pointer with 2:17 left, assisted by extra normal perimeter risk Murphy, minimize Minnesota’s result in 112-110. Williamson then pulled out of a spinning dribble within the lane for a brief floater that tied it.
“We actually had numerous play-calling down the stretch,” a smiling McCollum deadpanned. “Get the ball to Z and get the (expletive) out of the way in which.”
Williamson tied it once more at 114 on a driving finger roll. And after Jaden McDaniels’ free throws put Minnesota again up with 1:04 left, Williamson hit a contested, off-balance, driving layup to tie it earlier than stepping as much as tip a bounce go away from McDaniels and convert the steal right into a go-ahead, breakaway dunk that had a sellout crowd in a frenzy.
“That’s simply who he’s; he understands time, rating, conditions. He understands the second. And he made massive performs after massive performs,” coach Willie Inexperienced mentioned. “That’s what nice gamers do.”
Edwards’ dunk tied it at 118 earlier than Williamson hit one in every of two free throws, which turned out to be sufficient.
Zion Williamson is doused with water by teammates after his 43-point night time led the Pelicans to a 119-118 win over the Timberwolves.Getty Photographs
Murphy scored 21, going 5 of 6 from 3, and McCollum scored 20 for the Pelicans. Jonas Valanciunas had 12 factors and 11 rebounds.
D’Angelo Russell had 27 factors and McDaniels scored 19 for Minnesota.
“There have been lots of good issues we did within the recreation,” Russell mentioned. “We did all the pieces we might and battled. We tried to present ourselves an opportunity on the finish of the sport and that’s all you possibly can ask for.”
The sport was marked by bodily play and flaring feelings.
There have been 52 complete fouls referred to as, together with a half-dozen technical fouls and one flagrant foul on every workforce.
“An emotional recreation, a chippy recreation, however that is good,” Inexperienced mentioned. “It builds our character. It’s nice to be on the successful aspect.”
Austin Rivers, who wound up fouling out with almost 8 minutes left, was assessed a flagrant-1 foul after he caught Larry Nance Jr. laborious within the head with a forearm late within the third quarter. Nance went to the locker room and was dominated out for the rest of the sport with neck spasms.
Rivers, a 2012 New Orleans first-round draft selection together with Anthony Davis, additionally exchanged shoves with Valanciunas. Double technicals had been referred to as and an extra technical was referred to as on New Orleans’ Naji Marshall for pushing Timberwolves middle Rudy Gobert as he stepped between Valanciunas and Rivers.
Minnesota took a 50-39 lead after a 9-0 run ignited by Russell’s 3 and fueled by McDaniels’ layup and putback within the second quarter.
Again-to-back dunks by Williamson and Murphy helped the Pelicans trim it to 52-49 earlier than Naz Reid’s 3 made it 55-49 at halftime.