Zion Williamson injury: Pelicans star reportedly dealing with hamstring issue, testing set for Wednesday

In the first game of the 2024 postseason, we already had our first gut-wrenching injury. With just over three minutes remaining in the Play-In game for the West’s No. 7 seed and the Pelicans and Lakers tied up, Zion Williamson, having just hit the 40-point mark, grimaced and motioned to the bench. At the next timeout he left his seat and walked back to the locker room angrily. 

Following the game, which New Orleans wound up losing 110-106, Pelicans coach Willie Green vaguely categorized Williamson’s injury as “left leg soreness,” but according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, it appears to be a hamstring issue. 

Williamson will undergo further testing on Wednesday to determine the extend of the injury and a possible timetable for his return. For now, his status for Friday’s do-or-die game against the Kings, who defeated the Warriors in the 9-10 game on Tuesday, for the No. 8 seed remains unclear. 

Here’s the play where Williamson appeared to injure himself. 

New Orleans is obviously hoping Williamson can make it back for Friday, and perhaps there’s some good news on that front. Though it’s obviously nothing official, The Athletic’s Will Guillory observed Williamson leaving the arena without a limp and without any visible wrap on his leg. 

Rod Walker of The Times-Picayune shared a similarly positive sentiment. 

Obviously the Pelicans are hoping that Zion can make it back for Friday’s game, but even if that ends up being the case, this was brutal for the Pelicans, who were in real position to secure their playoff spot after storming back from as many as 18 down against the Lakers. 

New Orleans had all the momentum behind Energizer Bunny Jose Alvarado and Williamson, who, when considering the stage and the context of this being his first postseason game, was putting on the best performance of his NBA career. 

Williamson finished with 40 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. He was exploding to the rim both in the half-court and in transition, seeking out slivers of space and bulldozing through them for finishes of equal parts force and finesse. 

Williamson defended all night, too, standing up LeBron James with a live dribble on multiple occasions. He was on a clear mission. And he was delivering. And then, in a blink, just when it looked like he was about to lead the Pelicans to a dramatic comeback victory, his night, and the Pelicans’ shot at the 7 seed, ended. 

If you want to look at the glass half full as a Pelicans fan, winning this game wouldn’t have brought much of a reward — unless you consider playing, and very likely losing to, the Nuggets in the first round sounds like fun. The Pelicans are now playing with fire in a one-game elimination with the Kings, but if they can get out of that with a win, they will play the Thunder in the first round. 

The Thunder are no picnic, but they’re not the Nuggets. That would be a more winnable series for the Pels. But they have to get Zion back to have any chance, and right now, nobody knows whether that’s in the cards. We’ll know more on Wednesday. Until then, New Orleans will just have to keep its organizational fingers crossed. 

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