Zion Williamson, Pelicans look like a real contender in the west after beating Suns again for seventh straight win

The New Orleans Pelicans are unstoppable. With Zion Williamson again at the helm, they defeated the Phoenix Suns in overtime on Sunday, 129-124, for their second win in three days over last season’s playoff opponent and their seventh straight win overall.

With Sunday’s win, the Pelicans improved to 18-8 and now sit alone at the top of the Western Conference by a game over the Memphis Grizzlies. This is the Pelicans’ best start in 26 games in franchise history and the last in a season they’ve held first place since April 11, 2008.

“I think we gained a lot of experience from last year’s run,” said CJ McCollum. “A lot of younger guys get more opportunities to show off what they’ve been working on in the summer. The summer work pays off. Understand that we missed a couple of games against the Suns last year and we wanted to make sure we were winning home court concern and building winning habits going forward.”

Coincidentally, this 2008 squad was led by Chris Paul. The veteran was back in town this weekend and was one of many Suns players to get upset over how Friday night’s matchup between the two ended. As the seconds tick by and the pelicans advance at nine Williamson threw down a remarkable 360 ​​windmill which delighted the Smoothie King Center and infuriated many members of the Suns.

Paul and co. had their chance for revenge on Sunday but failed to take it, in large part due to another contentious moment between Paul and Williamson. Early in extra time, Paul was isolated against Williamson as the shot clock ran out. Unable to shake the big man, Paul went for a step-back 3-pointer and pulled a foul. Or so it seemed. Upon review, it was clear that Paul was stretching his legs to the side in an unnatural motion, and the game was overturned to an offensive foul. Instead of Paul taking three free throws while his team was three behind, he was eliminated from the game and the Suns never got close.

“It was a big challenge for us,” Williamson said. “My teammates hyped me for getting the stop and he fouled with that. That was great for us.”

Williamson continued his impressive form, finishing the field with 35 points, eight rebounds and three assists, with 14 of 21. This was his second straight 35-point game and fourth 30-point game during the Pelicans’ winning streak. With Brandon Ingram sidelined for this run, Williamson has become a real No. 1 option. In the seven games, he averaged 30 points, 9.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists a night while shooting 66.9 percent from the field.

This is the player we saw in the 2020-21 season when Williamson made his first All-Star appearance. His combination of strength and athleticism is just too much for opponents. Even if teams shift their entire defense to try and stop him, it doesn’t matter; he can jump over them, dash around, or fight his way through them.

With Williamson playing at an elite level, the third-best defense in the league (108.4 Defensive), and Ingram expected to return sometime during their upcoming road trip, the Pelicans look like a real contender out west.

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