The NBA is officially back!
After trailing by as much as 16 points, the Utah Jazz rallied back and took down the New Orleans Pelicans in the first game of the NBA’s restart last Thursday.
With the game tied with 6.9 seconds remaining, star big man Rudy Gobert nailed two clutch free-throws to complete the comeback for Utah.
Jordan Clarkson top scored with 23 points off the bench, spearheading Utah’s second-half resurgence.
“When Jordan has space on the floor to work, he’s really difficult to guard, that’s what you saw in the second half,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said.
Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley added in 20 points apiece while Rudy Gobert finished with a dominant 14 point, 12 rebound double-double showing for the Jazz.
While for New Orleans, its all-star forward Brandon Ingram who led the charge with 23 points alongside JJ Redick and Jrue Holiday who chipped in 21 and 20 respectively in a losing effort.
It’s the Pelicans who dominated the first half, leading by as much as 16, 60-44 late in the second frame. But things start to turn around for the Jazz late in fourth, going on an 11-1 run, capped by Mitchell’s floater off the glass, to take the lead heading in to the final four minutes.
With the game tied at 104, Donovan Mitchell attacked the paint which forced New Orleans to collapse on him, before dishing it to a wide open Gobert inside for a dunk attempt that was only stopped by a Derrick Favors foul.
“For Donovan to find Rudy at the end of the game there is a heck of a play, and then Rudy goes and makes the two free throws,” Snyder commented. “Those guys have done that hundreds and hundreds of times.”
The Pelicans then immediately tried to respond but were mere inches away from stealing the game as Brandon Ingram’s three-pointer rimmed out at the last second.
“He’s made a ton of big shots for us this year, but the bottom line is I don’t think it should have come down to that,” Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry said. “We let a golden opportunity slip away.”
Zion Williamson showed signs of frustration for not being able to go all-out in this game due to minutes restrictions imposed the Pelicans coaching staff.
“Our medical people said that we played him in the minutes that [were] allowed (for) us to play him. We’ll just move on,” Gentry said.
“Yeah, I did want to be out there, but we’re just working my way back into my flow. That’s all it is,” the rookie forward commented.
FIGHT FOR RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
Before the game started, players, coaching staff, and team personnel all kneeled down during the playing of the national anthem to show their fight for racial discrimination and racial equality.
“It felt like we were able to bring people together. Two teams, who were about to go out there to battle, we can also come together to fight for something, and I feel like that was huge. That’s one of the reasons why I feel like [the players] came back and the league wanted us to come back,” Gentry said.
“Yeah, it was emotional because all of us (were) there together as one, doing something we believe in,” Williamson added.
Some players from both teams are wearing statement jerseys that tackle social injustices that are happening across the world.