Opinion: Pelicans’ playoff fortunes should not hang on how they handle Zion Williamson’s minutes

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The minutes ticked closer to crunch time. For the first time during the NBA restart, it did not mean New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson would remain on the sideline.

In related news, the Pelicans finished with a 109-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday at HP Fieldhouse. New Orleans (29-38) salvaged its playoff fortunes by reducing the gap behind Memphis (32-36) to 2½ games for the eighth and final playoff spot with five seeding games remaining. And Williamson, who finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists, scored half of the team’s four field goals in the final 4:29.

"I felt alive. That’s my competitive spirit," Williamson said. "I ain’t going to lie to you. It’s different in a bad way when you’re on the bench in the fourth quarter and there is nothing I can do to help my team win."

SportsPulse: If one team has shown they're ready to play in the bubble, it's the Houston Rockets. USA TODAY Sports' Mark Medina explains why they should be considered serious contenders for the NBA title.


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