NBA play-in: Zion Williamson's 40-point night halted by leg injury in Pelicans loss

Zion Williamson was having one of the best nights of his career in the NBA play-in tournament against the New Orleans Pelicans. It ended badly, and not just because the Pelicans lost.

The All-Star forward exited the Pelicans' 110-106 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers with an apparent leg injury, leaving in the final minutes of a 40-point performance. Pelicans head coach Willie Green described the issue as "left leg soreness" to reporters after the game.

Williamson will undergo imaging on Wednesday, two days before the Pelicans' second play-in game.

The injury occurred on a lay-up by Williamson against Anthony Davis, after which Williamson pulled up limping and requested to be taken out of the game. He was visibly frustrated as he headed from the bench to the locker room, slamming a towel down on the court.

The TNT broadcast later reported Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin had moved down to the locker room, underscoring the seriousness of the injury.

The injury ruined a superb postseason debut for Williamson, who had led the Pelicans on an 18-point comeback to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. On a night in which the Pelicans' shooting had gone cold, posting a 9-of-30 mark from deep, his aggression in the paint came up huge against a Lakers team used to controlling the paint.

Williamson shot 17-of-27 from the field, accounting for 44.7% of the Pelicans' 38 makes before he exited the game.

The Pelicans hung around after the injury, but the momentum clearly shifted as soon as Williamson reached the locker room. It was a rough twist for a player who has dealt with injury issues throughout his five-year career. He played a career-high 70 games this season, but ended up having to miss the most important minutes of his team's season so far.

The loss leaves New Orleans headed to the final West play-in game, where they will either the Golden State Warriors or the Sacramento Kings for a matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder as the conference's No. 8 seed.

As for the Lakers, they locked themselves in as the No. 7 seed, with a rematch against the Denver Nuggets on the docket.