Zion Williamson comes to Kevin Love’s defense after wild brawl between Heat and Pelicans

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Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson doesn’t seem to think that Miami Heat forward Kevin Love had any ill intent behind a foul he committed on the 23-year-old early in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game between the Heat and Pelicans.

“I wasn’t tripping about K-Love because he actually protected me on my fall,” Williamson said. “All of a sudden I see [Jimmy] Butler kind of lunging toward Naji [Marshall], so I’m trying to get there like, ‘Yo, relax, like what’s going on?'”

Love wasn’t among the four players — Butler, Marshall, Jose Alvarado and Thomas Bryant — who were ejected following the altercation that transpired after he fouled Williamson. He ended up with three points, eight rebounds, one assist and one block in Miami’s 11-point victory over New Orleans.

Williamson, meanwhile, accounted for 23 of the Pelicans’ 95 points versus Miami and shot 9-of-22 from the floor. He also totaled nine rebounds, seven assists and one steal.

Butler and the Heat will play the Pelicans at home on March 22, and the 34-year-old believes Miami will win that matchup as well.

The forward was playing great basketball against New Orleans prior to his ejection. He racked up 23 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and 1-of-1 from 3-point range.

But he didn’t lead the Heat in scoring, as Bam Adebayo — who just recently suited up in the 2024 NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis — dropped a team-high 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the floor to go along with seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and three blocks.

The Heat are now winners of their last three games after taking care of business against Williamson and the Pelicans. Before the All-Star break rolled around, Miami beat the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 14 and Milwaukee Bucks the day before.

At 31-25, Miami currently sits as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference and is within reach of a top-four seed in the conference, considering the Heat are three games back of the New York Knicks — who own the No. 4 seed — in the standings.

The Heat will hope to pick up their fourth win in a row when they play the Sacramento Kings on the road on Feb. 26.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.