Zion Williamson's injury marred his superb Pelicans postseason debut.

New Orleans — Zion Williamson dribbled down the lane and finished a game-tying layup over Anthony Davis, sending New Orleans fans wild. A moment later, the Pelicans star forward threw a towel on the floor in disdain as he disappeared down a locker room tunnel.  

Williamson's promising postseason start, 40 points, 11 rebounds, ended in a frightening fashion for him and New Orleans on Tuesday night. A left leg injury kept him out of the last three minutes of a 110-106 Western Conference play-in loss to the Lakers.  

“This is an unfortunate situation,” Pelicans guard CJ McCollum said. “His game was great. In the final stages of a crucial game, he's dominating and making his mark. He leaves the game early. “I don’t know what happened or the extent of it,” McCollum said. “Hopefully, he returns soon.”  

Williamson was scheduled for imaging on Wednesday and his status was uncertain before a Friday night play-in game against Sacramento to determine the eighth Western Conference playoff spot. In his fifth year as a pro, Williamson emerged from knee, hand, foot, and hamstring problems that plagued him for four years. He led the 49-win Pelicans with 22.9 points in 70 games.  

Williamson's first postseason performance was impressive for 45 minutes on Tuesday night. He found many ways to get by Davis and LeBron James and show off his rim skills. He threw the ball straight in or used the glass. He delivered powerful dunks and midrange shots.  

He ran nearly the length of the court on the dribble in the final seconds of the first half before sinking a disputed floater off the glass. The former Duke star's performance showed Pelicans veteran big Larry Nance Jr. why Williamson was the consensus No. 1 choice in the 2019 NBA draft.  

That dude is incredible,” Nance added. “My vocabulary is large. I can't describe his performance tonight or how he's carried us all season. So maybe he's well and we can have something similar on Friday.” James predicted Williamson would be “going to be great for a long time.”  

“He’s a generational player and talent. James predicted his continued improvement. “Tonight was just a small microcosm of how great he can be, his ability to get downhill, finish vs. smalls, bigs, taller guys, shorter guys, doesn't matter,” James said. “He competes without fear. What a terrific thing. His stardom.”  

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