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Limited playing time is ‘very tough’ for Zion Williamson, struggling to find rhythm

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Zion Williamson has played less than 30 minutes combined in the New Orleans Pelicans’ first two losses inside the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World.

Williamson has been placed on “burst restrictions” after missing almost two weeks before play resumed due to a family matter that caused him to leave the bubble.

Though it’s easy to see why the Pelicans staff would limit the 19-year-old — especially after his delayed start to the season after undergoing knee surgery in October — it doesn’t make it any easier for him.

“It’s very tough, to be honest, because as soon as I start to break that sweat, I look over and that horn is for me and I have to come out of the game,” Williamson said Sunday, via ESPN.

‘I want to stay on the court’

Williamson finished with 13 points while shooting 6-of-8 from the field in 15 minutes in their 106-104 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday — the team’s first game inside the bubble since play resumed. The former Duke star had participated in just two practices before that contest, and knew his playing time was going to be limited.

Williamson then recorded seven points and five rebounds in 14 minutes in the Pelicans’ 126-103 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. He was expected to play more, though with the team in such a big hole in the second half head coach Alvin Gentry opted not to play him.

"We talked to him about that," Gentry said, via ESPN. "You just have to be smart in those situations. Everyone wants to play and play right now. We try to spend time as coaches and medical people trying to let him understand that this is going to be for the best short-term and long-term really."

Williamson insisted that he isn’t letting himself get frustrated being on the sidelines more, though he knows the Pelicans are running out of time to make the postseason. New Orleans has just six seeding games left and is currently in 11th place in the Western Conference standings.

Getting upset over his playing time, Williamson said, wouldn’t help the situation.

"It's still fun but I guess, like you said, it's not to that full extent as y'all are used to seeing," Williamson said, via ESPN. "I'm a competitor, I want to stay on the court. When I'm coming out of the game, my competitive side of me that I want to stay in. I guess that does affect the fun a little bit, but not too much."

New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson
Zion Williamson insists that his limited minutes aren't frustrating him inside the NBA bubble. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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