It has been 141 days since the last competitive NBA basketball game was played on 11th March. The season was at risk of being stranded halfway through with the advent of the COVID-19 threat, but the NBA have done a tremendous job of ensuring a restart.
22 teams have been accommodated inside a veritable 'bubble' at Disney World, Orlando. With the possibility of a play-in tournament for the last playoff spot in both Conferences, things are much more interesting in this season restart than the usual dreary end to the regular season.
The Utah Jazz vs New Orleans Pelicans game started with everyone associated with both teams present at the arena kneeling to the national anthem.
Utah Jazz vs New Orleans Pelicans: Twitter reactions
The Utah Jazz trailed the New Orleans Pelicans for most parts of the game. From 23-21 with around a minute left in the first quarter, they did not regain the lead till late in the 4th quarter at 98-97. This was due to a cold streak from the perimeter - the Jazz only made 8 of their 34 3-point attempts throughout the game.
It was surprise performer off the bench Jordan Clarkson - a mid-season acquisition from the Cavs - who kept them in the game. Clarkson seemed able to get to the rim at will, and his driving game yielded tons of open shots for other shooters in the team as well.
Clarkson's new hairdo received as much attention as his gameplay too.
Zion Williamson played only 15 minutes in his comeback game, going for 13 points on 8 shots. The rookie, however, was found wanting on defense - his +/- of -16 reveals as much.
Mike Conley, who had a subpar season for the most part until recovering his mojo somewhat in the last month before the shutdown, was mightily impressive in his showing today. 20 points and 4 assists on 7-of-16 shooting mark a nice comeback for the former Grizzlies guard.
The Pelicans had Brandon Ingram, JJ Redick and Jrue Holiday each going for 20 or more points in the game. They gained control midway through the game based largely on the performances of this trio. Redick, especially, off the bench, provided them with a much-needed scoring thrust from the perimeter.
But the rest of the team lacked application and by the end of the game, the New Orleans Pelicans had only attempted 31 3-pointers - down from their season average.
Overall, the Utah Jazz vs New Orleans Pelicans matchup was a great contest to watch in terms of a comeback game. It never spiraled too far out of reach for the Jazz, who held their nerve down the stretch.
Published 31 Jul 2020, 07:34 IST