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Zion to miss play-in elimination game vs. Kings

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson won't play in Friday's winner-take-all play-in tournament contest against the Sacramento Kings after an MRI Wednesday revealed a strained left hamstring, the team announced.

The two-time All-Star will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks.

If the Pelicans defeat the Kings without Williamson, they'll advance to face the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. However, if they lose, they'll be eliminated before reaching the playoffs, a stage Williamson has yet to reach since the Pelicans drafted him first overall in 2019.

Williamson appeared to suffer the injury in New Orleans' loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

Immediately after scoring the last of his 40 points against L.A. - a driving floater over Anthony Davis - Williamson grimaced and appeared to notice something was off. The Pelicans star angrily threw a towel on the ground while on the bench during the ensuing timeout before retreating to the locker room. The team shortly thereafter ruled the 23-year-old out for the remainder of the game.

Williamson's basket tied the score at 95-95 with 3:13 left in the fourth quarter. However, without their franchise star, the Pelicans were outscored 15-9 down the stretch as the Lakers moved on to the first round of the playoffs, where they will match up against the Denver Nuggets as the No. 7 seed in the West.

Game 1 of the series between the Thunder and either the Kings or Pelicans will tip off Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET in Oklahoma City. If necessary, a seven-game set would run through May 5.

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