NBA: Utah Jazz beats New Orleans Pelicans

Thanks to a productive fourth quarter, Utah Jazz narrowly edged out New Orleans Pelicans in the first game of the NBA after its restart.

Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson heads to the basket during the second half of the NBA contest in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Clarkson scored 23 points for the Jazz.   -  AP

Rudy Gobert broke a tie by making two free throws with 6.9 seconds left, and the Utah Jazz defeated New Orleans Pelicans 106-104 in the first game of the restart to the NBA season on Thursday night.

The lead held up when Brandon Ingram missed a 3-pointer with one second left, completing a fourth quarter in which the Jazz outscored the Pelicans 27-17.

The contest was played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, where the league will complete the campaign with all teams in a “bubble.” The NBA had shut down play 11 March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the game, all players, coaches and staff members of the teams, along with all officials, kneeled during the national anthem. Players wore shirts reading “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” which was also printed on the court. Many locked arms with those next to them, while some raised fists in the air.

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Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to lead Utah with 23 points. Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell added 20 each, Gobert had 14 points and 12 rebounds, Joe Ingles scored 13 and Royce O’Neale had 12.

Ingram led New Orleans with 23 points. J. J. Redick scored 21, Jrue Holiday had 20, Zion Williamson 13 and Josh Hart 10. Williamson played 15 minutes as he works his way back to full fitness after being quarantined following a trip out of the “bubble” due to a family situation.

The Jazz trailed for most of the game but pulled within two points on a layup by Conley early in the fourth quarter.

Ingram made a basket and E’Twaun Moore hit a 3-pointer to increase the Pelicans’ edge to 96-89.

Then New Orleans went cold. Clarkson made a 3-pointer and assisted on a layup by Gobert.

 

After Ingram made a technical free throw, O’Neale and Mitchell made baskets, and Utah held a 98-97 lead with four minutes remaining. After an exchange of baskets, Redick made a 3-pointer that tied the score with 1:02 left.

Mitchell broke the tie by sinking two free throws, but Ingram answered with two free throws with 32 seconds remaining before Gobert made the game-winners.

The Pelicans led by 12 points at the half, but the Jazz scored the first five points of the third quarter before closing within 65-60. Holiday made consecutive baskets to help New Orleans push the lead to 71-60 before Utah made another run.

 

The Jazz closed within 75-71 on a basket by Clarkson, but the Pelicans finished the quarter with a push.

Redick made two 3-pointers and Hart made one as New Orleans increased its lead to 10 before settling for an 87-79 advantage at the end of the period.

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