Southwest Notes: Williamson, Pelicans, Clarke, Popovich

The Pelicans got a tasty matchup against the depleted Pistons on Sunday and Zion Williamson took full advantage. Williamson made all but one of his 14 field-goal attempts while racking up 36 points.

“He had it going tonight in the first quarter,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green told Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “He kind of got it going midway through. We wanted to let him go a little bit. That’s all that was.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr., who has passed through numerous franchises, is impressed by what New Orleans has established. The Pelicans are currently fifth in the Western Conference standings. “This is how you build a winning franchise,” he told Clark. “Those franchises that go from low wins to 60 wins, that’s not sustainable. You build a successful franchise, a successful roster, a successful team by steadily growing. Steady improvement. Keeping the core together. And really, being willing and able to play alongside each other. That’s what Denver did. That’s what Milwaukee had done. Golden State. You build. You start slow, and you build.” Nance is in the first year of a two-year, $21.6MM contract.
  • Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke is listed as doubtful to play against Denver on Monday, but that’s significant, as Michael Wallace of tweets. Clarke has been rehabbing from a left Achilles tendon tear all season and this is the first time he’s been listed as something other than out this season. It means that Clarke is likely on track to return in the next game or two.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has urged his players to curtail their activity on social media, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News writes. “I don’t follow them around day and all night, see how many minutes they’re spending on their phones,” he said. “But we’ve brought in people to talk to them about that so they understand there are ways they can spend their time a whole lot more efficiently and meaningfully. Hopefully, they are paying attention.”
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