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With career night, Zion Williamson joins exclusive company

In his first eight games, Zion Williamson scored 20 points or more six times. On Tuesday night, Williamson topped 30 points for the first time as he led the New Orleans Pelicans to a 138-117 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Williamson’s explosiveness was on full display. He mixed spinning dribbles and sudden baseline drives into his usual arsenal of soaring transition dunks and tenacious putbacks. Oh, and that alley-oop …

Williamson finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 28 minutes. Not bad for a teenager.

Only three 19-year-olds previously have put up at least 31 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists: LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Luka Doncic.

Also notable:

  • Williamson is the first rookie since Dikembe Mutombo in 1991-92 to score at least 14 points in each of his first nine career NBA games.
  • Williamson is the third player with seven 20-point games in his first 10 career games over the last 30 seasons, joining Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal.

“I expect to make an impact but I don’t expect to do nothing like this,” Williamson said after the game. “I just kind of look to come in, just kind of fit in, just not try to mess up … but my teammates and coaches are always pushing me.”

Williamson’s big night helped New Orleans pull within 1 1/2 games of Portland in the Western Conference standings. The Pelicans are 3-0 against the Blazers this season, which means they own the head-to-head tiebreaker.

”I don’t really think he’s comparable to anyone that I have seen,” Portland forward Carmelo Anthony said of Williamson. ”Someone who is as powerful as that, who jumps like that … you can tell he’s getting better and getting a feel for the game.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.