CJ McCollum, Zion Williamson Lead Pelicans Past Grizzlies 111-104 in Season Opener
CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 111-104 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The New Orleans Pelicans kicked off their season with a 111-104 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. CJ McCollum led the way for the Pelicans with 24 points, while Zion Williamson contributed 23 points and seven rebounds. Brandon Ingram also had a strong performance with 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Jonas Valanciunas added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Pelicans' success was a team effort, with contributions from all players. Coach Willie Green praised the team's mentality and execution on both ends of the court. The Pelicans' strong defense set the tone for their offensive success.
Despite missing their leading scorer, Ja Morant, due to suspension, the Grizzlies put up a fight. Desmond Bane led the team with 31 points, and Marcus Smart and Xavier Tillman each scored 17 points. However, the Grizzlies struggled without Morant and several injured players, resulting in a disadvantageous small-ball lineup.
The Pelicans took advantage of their healthy roster, particularly Ingram and Williamson, who missed significant time last season. This allowed them to dominate the boards, outrebounding the Grizzlies 52-37. Although the Pelicans committed 21 turnovers, the Grizzlies only managed to convert two fast break points.
New Orleans held a 57-47 lead at halftime, thanks to their strong defense. They continued to build their lead in the third quarter, capitalizing on Memphis' mistakes and poor shooting. Although the Grizzlies made a run in the fourth quarter, the Pelicans responded with key plays from Williamson to maintain their lead.
Williamson acknowledged that it will take a few games to regain his rhythm, but he emphasized the importance of NBA games in honing his skills. Coach Green recognized the team's performance but emphasized the need for improvement and growth.
Overall, the Pelicans' season opener was a promising start, showcasing their depth and resilience. They will continue to work on their game and build on this win as they strive for success throughout the season.