NEW ORLEANS, La. (WLOX) - From starring on their South Carolina AAU team to starring on the biggest stage basketball has to offer. Zion Williamson & Ja Morant, the top two picks in the 2019 NBA Draft, put on show in their first-ever meeting. The New Orleans Pelicans rookie taking advantage of the opportunity, posting a career-high 24 points in a blowout 139-111 win for New Orleans.
“We never saw each other being the number one & two pick, playing against each other, swapping jerseys. You can’t imagine stuff like that so it was a great moment," Williamson told WLOX who scored 24 points in less than 29 minutes, along with six rebounds and three assists. "He knows he’s my brother. We talk sometimes, not a lot, but we did talk about that moment a good bit so to finally be able to it was nice.”
The Pelicans had one of their more complete games of the season, shooting over 53 percent, had eight players in double figures, and won the rebound battle by 23 to give Alvin Gentry his 500th career victory as a head coach.
“I didn’t even know that. To me I’ve just been very blessed to be able to coach five teams in this league. That doesn’t happen very often, especially to a guy who never played in this league," Gentry said who became just the sixth African-American head coach to achieve such a feat in the NBA. "For everything I have in life it’s been about basketball and I’ve truly truly blessed for everything that has happened with basketball. We’ve just got to continue to play and do our part. Whatever happens from there happens. We’re not going to look at standings, we’re not going to do anything like that. We’re just going to try to make sure that we’re a better team every day.”
Prior to the game, Gentry said the team watched a video from the late Kobe Bryant, where he talked about hard work and never being second-best. Lonzo Ball said that definitely inspired the guys and was a factor in them achieving their third straight victory.
New Orleans (20-30) look to get back in the win column Tuesday at home against Milwaukee (42-7) after falling short to Houston (31-18) on the road Sunday.