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Zion Williamson out indefinitely with fractured ring finger

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The New Orleans Pelicans are currently 1.5 games out of a spot in the play-in tournament, but they'll have to make their final run without Zion Williamson.

The team announced Friday that Williamson is out indefinitely with a fractured left ring finger. A timetable for the rising star's return will reportedly be determined at a later date.

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Williamson, who is left-handed, exited Tuesday's game against the Golden State Warriors with an apparent hand injury, hitting his hand on something while jumping for a rebound.

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Williamson made his return soon after going to the locker room, but a CT scan reportedly revealed the extent of the damage.

With only six games remaining in the regular season for the Pelicans, Williamson's injury almost certainly means the end of his season. In his sophomore year, he averaged 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 61.1 percent from the field, all significant improvements from his rookie season.

Pelicans VP: Injury due to 'open season' on Zion in the paint

The Williamson injury news comes with frustration for Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin, who told reporters that the injury was caused by an "open season" for defenders in the paint. 

Since his NBA debut, Williamson has been among the most physical and explosive interior players in the league. Griffin claims that opponents have become aware of a lack of willingness of officials to call fouls involving the young star.

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Massive blow for Pelican's NBA play-in hopes

It's unclear how long Williamson will be out, but it's bad news for the Pelicans no matter the answer.

The team currently sits in 11th place in the Western Conference at 30-36, 1.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the final spot in the NBA's play-in tournament. Making up that gap wouldn't have been easy, but a tough schedule for the Spurs down the stretch (Blazers, Bucks, Nets, Knicks, Suns, Suns) made it possible.

That just got a lot harder. It's hard to see Williamson returning anytime soon, especially because the team is going to prioritize the long-term health of its superstar. Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans' other star, is also dealing with a left ankle sprain and will miss the team's game on Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

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