Rookie Zion Williamson has recorded the first 30-point effort of his game and looks for a strong follow-up performance when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. The No. 1 overall pick is displaying his abilities by scoring 20 or more points in five straight appearances and seven of his first nine NBA games.
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New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said Williamson hasn't "even scratched the surface yet" and everybody seemed impressed with the 31-point effort in Tuesday's 138-117 home win over the Portland Trail Blazers except for the 19-year-old power forward. "I think it's alright," Williamson told reporters after the Pelicans won for the sixth time in the past eight games. "For me, as long as I get the win, I'm happy. ... I expected to make an impact, but I don't expect to do nothing like this." The Thunder have dropped back-to-back games after winning nine of their previous 10. Oklahoma City is attempting to avoid its first three-game slide since Nov. 18-22, which dropped its record to 5-10 before its fortunes improved.
TIME: 8 p.m. ET. TV: FS Oklahoma, FS New Orleans, TSN3
ABOUT THE THUNDER (32-22): Point guard Chris Paul scored 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting but the rest of the team was just 27-of-67 as Oklahoma City finished at 45.9 percent in a 114-106 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs. "I thought offensively it was a hard night for us," Thunder coach Billy Donovan told reporters afterward. "We just never got going like we had been. We had been so good offensively for so many games and this one wasn't as good." Donovan was disappointed the club "didn't have a great finishing night" near the basket and said he was willing to look at the shaky performance as one off-night.
ABOUT THE PELICANS (23-31): All-Star small forward Brandon Ingram (ankle) has missed the past two games and it is unclear if he will return for the team's final game before the All-Star break. "It's great to get wins like this, without one of your best players," shooting guard Josh Hart told reporters of Ingram sitting out versus the Thunder. "Hopefully he can be out there Thursday. We want to go into All-Star break on a good note." Shooting guard JJ Redick scored 20 points for his second straight effort of 20 or more and is averaging 20.3 over the past three games.
1. The Thunder are 3-0 against the Pelicans this season.
2. Oklahoma City PF Danilo Gallinari scored 15 points on 4-of-16 shooting versus San Antonio and is just 17-of-45 over the past three contests.
3. New Orleans is averaging 129 points over the past three games.
PREDICTION: Pelicans 113, Thunder 105 Bet Now
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