Zion Williamson is in charge.
The Pelicans star had 13 points, two rebounds, three assists and three turnovers in 26 minutes against his team, which suffered a 133-89 loss to the Lakers in Thursday's in-season tournament.
New Orleans was -33 in the 26 minutes Williamson was on the floor.
“We have to be better,” he said. “I had to be more aggressive and find my shot. I have to do more to move the team forward. I think I took it too easy tonight, but you can't do that. And We need to get better defensively as well.”
The veteran Lakers mounted a strong attack against the Pelicans, with LeBron James recording 30 points, five assists, and eight rebounds in just 23 minutes, but then missed the entire fourth quarter.
“Tonight was a total disappointment,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “We were all disappointed in the competitiveness against the Lakers, but you have to give them credit. They came out and dominated.”
For Green, the difference was clear.
“They know what it takes to be on the big stage and have great moments,” Green said. “For some of our players, it's the first time they've been in an elimination game since college. So we're going to get the experience, watch that film, grow and learn. Especially for Z. , that's a moment we can learn from. The level rose tonight, but like I said, we didn't match their intensity.”
The loss was the second straight game in the finals of the NBA's first tournament for Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, who has yet to taste the NBA postseason.
In the quarterfinals against the Kings, he scored 10 points on 5 of 8 shots and won 127-117.
Whatever is at stake in his game, he will have to work it out before Monday's home game against the Timberwolves.
“I literally have an issue where I try to chase the best shot possible every time, but my teammates expect more from me,” Williamson said. “I expect more from myself. I just have to believe in my game. I have to be more aggressive. I think if I can be more aggressive, that energy will definitely carry over.”