It didn't take long for New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry to understand the reality of coaching top overall draft pick Zion Williamson.
"I had guys yelling and cursing at me -- who would be dumb enough to keep him out of the game?" Gentry said Thursday, one day following Williamson's NBA debut after the Duke product missed the season's first three months to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery.
"I'm a little bit smarter than that. We all understand that you can't sacrifice one game for long term."
Williamson scored 22 points, 17 in the fourth quarter, as the host Pelicans lost to the San Antonio Spurs 121-117. The Duke product watched the final five minutes from the New Orleans bench after reaching a predetermined minutes limit (18 minutes) imposed by the team's medical staff.
On Thursday, Williamson practiced with the Pelicans and reported no lingering effects from his debut.
"He's fine, really," Gentry told reporters. "He practiced today and everything. There was no soreness. He said he was fine."
Wiliamson hit 8 of 11 shots, including all four from 3-point range, grabbed seven rebounds and had three assists. He also turned the ball over five times.
"I think he was a little bit tentative to start the game, which was expected," Gentry said. "I think the second time he was a little bit more, and the third time he went in, I think he was aggressive to the point where we'd like for him to be."
Gentry said he will speak with the Pelicans' medical team on Friday, and the group will decide if Williamson's playing time will be limited for that night's game against the visiting Denver Nuggets.
--Field Level Media