Zion's 360 dunk to punctuate win rankles Suns

by Gordon Dixon - Pelicans star Zion Williamson admitted he went up for a 360 dunk at the end of Friday night's win over the Suns because they eliminated New Orleans from the playoffs last season.

Zion Williamson says playoff loss to Suns played part in late dunk 1:49 AM ET Andrew LopezESPN NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson took two dribbles toward the rim and pulled off a 360 windmill dunk to end Friday night's game against the Phoenix Suns in style. Some Suns players took exception to Williamson's slam, which happened with 1.9 seconds left to put the Pelicans up by double-digits. As the clock expired in New Orleans' 128-117 win, tempers flared as both benches cleared onto the court. Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado , Suns guards Cameron Payne and Chris Paul and coaching staffs from both teams met near center court before team security helped to separate both teams. "The game was pretty much over and they just kept playing," Payne said. "I felt like there was just no sportsmanship and we don't really like that. We do the right thing. I felt like they should've done the right thing and they didn't. We didn't take it well and we don't like to lose either. The game was over, no shot clock. They can hold the ball." Pelicans guard CJ McCollum , when asked about Payne's postgame remarks, gave a simple answer. "They gotta get back on defense if they don't want us to dunk the ball," McCollum said. "Get back on defense." Friday night's game was the second of the season between the Pelicans and Suns, who met in the first-round of the playoffs last season, with Phoenix winning in six games. Williamson wasn't available for that series because of a broken foot that wiped out his entire year. He said the playoff loss to the Suns played a part in why he went up for that final dunk. "That was a little out of character for me," Williamson said. "But you've got to understand, I mean, you can understand it or not. They sent my teammates home last year. "I missed all last year. I got carried away a little bit. I admit that. But you know, I was in that locker room when my brothers were down because the Suns sent us home last year. That's a tough moment to be a part of. So in that moment, I got carried away. I admit that. ... If they were to do the same thing, I wouldn't have no problem with it." There won't be much of a break between the teams either. The Pelicans host the Suns again on Sunday afternoon. While it was the Pelicans and Suns second meeting of the season, it was the first for Williamson, who missed the first game on Oct. 28 with lower back/right hip soreness. Pelicans forward Larry Nance said he didn't think Williamson's dunk itself was what caused the benches to clear, but more of the emotions of the game. "I think it was just one of those things. You got a lot of high level, high testosterone athletes out there and guys that are big and strong," Nance said. "I'm glad it got separated before anything stupid happened." Williamson finished with a season-high 35 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Pelicans, who improved to 17-8, tied for the best record in franchise history through 25 games (2002-03 and 2003-04). It also put them a game up for the best record in the Western Conference over Memphis and 1.5 up on Phoenix. While the Pelicans and Suns play again in New Orleans on Sunday, they'll wrap up the regular-season series on Dec. 17 when the teams meet once again in Phoenix.