Zion Williamson delivered another All-Star caliber performance against the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night, putting up 34 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in the New Orleans Pelicans' 112-104 win over Los Angeles. This gives the Pelicans a 3-1 series win over the Clippers this season and closes the gap between the two teams in the standings to just two games. The Clippers sit at the No. 4 spot in the West, with the Pelicans not far behind at No. 5. 

It was an important win for New Orleans, but more than that, it showed once again this season that the Clippers don't really have an answer for Williamson. Clippers coach Ty Lue spoke about this after the loss, not just about the dominance Williamson displayed Friday night but all season against L.A.

"Zion, down the stretch, of all three games they've won this year, three out of four, he dominated us the last six minutes of the third quarter – like we talked about before the game – and the whole fourth [quarter]," Lue said.

In four games against the Clippers this season, Williamson has averaged 24.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, five assists, and 1.8 steals and is shooting 52.1% from the field. He's been the reason the Pelicans have won three of their four matchups against the Clippers, and Friday night was just the latest example of that. 

As Lue referenced, Williamson scored 16 of his 34 points in the third quarter and went a perfect 7 for 7 from the floor. He worked in a variety of floaters and layups and just used his sheer strength and force to power his way to the rim and finish with finesse around the basket. And we already know that when Williamson gets downhill he's a nightmare to contain, and in back-to-back scores for the former No. 1 overall pick, he showed why.

On this first drive, he got Mason Plumlee out on an island on the perimeter. Though Plumlee matches Williamson well in size, and he did a good job of moving his feet so he didn't get burned when the Pelicans forward took his first step, Williamson just dropped his shoulder a bit, drove to the rim, and even when the defense collapsed on him, he managed to get up a balanced, high-quality shot.

A couple of possessions later, with just 3.5 seconds left in the third quarter, Williamson went coast-to-coast, driving right past all five Clippers defenders with insane ease to get a layup off right before the buzzer.

In Friday's game, PJ Tucker was the primary defender on Williamson. Though Tucker is the ideal archetype of player to defend Williamson, he did little to slow down the Pelicans forward. The same thing happened earlier in the season when Tucker was assigned to guard Williamson, and he put up 32 points in a Nov. 24 win. The Clippers have also tried to stick Ivica Zubac on Williamson, but he ends up doing the same thing he did to Plumlee: pulling him out to the perimeter, forcing him to defend in space, and then just using his strength to barrel his way to the basket.

Despite the Clippers having several strong individual defenders, Williamson poses a unique threat because of his strength, athleticism and ability to handle the ball. He can be dangerous off the ball, too, especially as a cutter, because once he's on his way to the basket, you're either going to try and foul him or just get out of the way. 

The Clippers' only time they have managed to contain Williamson this season is in a Jan. 5 meeting, the only matchup L.A. won. Williamson was held to 12 points on 3 of 9 from the floor in 19 minutes. But that's not even an accurate depiction, given that Williamson left that game in the third quarter with a right leg contusion.

And it's not just Williamson's offense, either. His teammate, Trey Murphy III, spoke about Williamson's extra commitment on the defensive side of the ball, an area where he's struggled to stay consistent in the past. But against the Clippers and over the course of the season, he's been more committed to improving on that end.

"At the end of the game, I was like, 'I got Kawhi,' and he was like, 'Nah, I got him,' and I was like, 'Hey man, you got it then; I'm not gonna fight you on that one,'" Murphy said. "That's what you want out of your stars, you want them to take on the challenge, and he understands what time it is. He understands what time of the season it is, and if you want to win in the playoffs and you want to be a star in the playoffs, you have to play both sides of the ball. So I think that's been a big thing for [Zion]."

While Friday's game doesn't mean a significant amount in the grand scheme of things, as the Clippers still have a somewhat comfortable lead over the Pelicans for that No. 4 spot in the West, where things get uncomfortable is the fact that these two teams could very well face each other in the postseason. If the playoffs started today, the Clippers would host the Pelicans in the first round, and given New Orleans' dominance over L.A. this season, specifically Williamson's strong play, I wouldn't feel too confident if I were the Clippers about my chances of making it out of the first round.

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