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Jazz vs. Pelicans: Utah takes victory in return to NBA restart game in Disney bubble

The 2019-20 NBA season is officially back. On Thursday night, Utah Jazz opened the action with an impressive 106-104 victory over the Pelicans in New Orleans. Down 16, the jazz receded in the second half and held on to victory after Brandon Ingram’s late attempt beyond the arc failed.

But while basketball is important, off-court action is the same. As expected, all of the two teams knelt for the national anthem before the match. The players also warmed up in shirts called “Black Lives Matter”, and the coaches of both teams wear special stickers on their T-shirts.

Jordan Clarkson came down from the bench to lead the jazz with 23 points. His energy and ability to get into the fight were key to getting Utah back into the game. Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley added 20 points each. The Pelicans were led by Brandon Ingram, who went for 23 points and eight rebounds.

Social justice

Obviously, everyone was excited to watch basketball again, but bigger things are happening in this country and the players have made it clear that they want to use this platform to keep fighting to change and spread their message. They did just that on Thursday night.

As expected, all of the two teams knelt for the national anthem, while players wore shooters called “Black Lives Matter”

; and coaches wore special stickers on their T-shirts that read “Coaches for Racial Justice.” In addition, “Black Lives Matter” was drawn in the middle and players wore special slogans on their T-shirts instead of their names.

Clarkson provides a boost

Jazz traded for Jordan Clarkson back in December, hoping it would provide the much-needed increase in the off-bench point. Before the season stopped, he did just that, chipped in 15.8 points and shot 35.6% of the ground with 3 points. It seemed like a sensible move for Utah, but it became even more important now that Bojan Bogdanovic is out until the end of the season.

Bogdanovic has undergone wrist surgery and will not play in Orlando. These are 20 points of play that jazz must suddenly replace, and much of that burden will fall on Clarkson. At least in the first match he showed that he can handle the load. Despite shooting 1 to 8 of 3, he led the team in a goal with 23 points, while adding five rebounds and three assists.

His ability to get into a fight and create his own shot was crucial to turning Utah’s second half as they struggled with a 16-point deficit. Jazz will need him to maintain this not only in the last seven sowing matches, but also in the playoffs.

Zion looks good for limited minutes

A few hours before the match, it was still unclear whether Zion Williamson would play. The rookie had to leave the bubble on a family issue earlier this month and cleared his re-quarantine just two days ago. He returned to the court for several practices, but the team was understandably cautious after missing the first half of the season due to knee surgery.

In the end, New Orleans decided to let him play, but only for extremely limited minutes. They were so strict in this regard that head coach Alvin Gentry did not bring Williamson back in the last minutes. That decision may have cost them the game, but Williamson understood his coach’s decision.

“I’m just bringing my flow back to the game,” Williamson said. “This is the NBA. These are the best players in the world. You want to feel comfortable. I don’t want to hurt my team more than I helped.”

When he was on the floor, Williamson was explosive, scoring 13 points 6-of-8 from the field, while doing what might have been a game of play with a smooth pass behind him. As opponents from the entire league realized, it is almost impossible to stop around the edge.

Sloppy game

Each team played three scrums last week, but this was their first real game in more than four months and it certainly looked like a stretch. Neither team shoots the ball well from the outside, combining to come out on 19 of 65 from the ground with 3 points. And they tried to take care of the ball, comparing each other with 20 revolutions each.

As teams get in the form of a game and regain their rhythm, and become more comfortable to play in front of fans inside the bubble, these issues will disappear. It will be interesting to see how long this process takes and whether the teams will come back and shoot all the cylinders before the playoffs.

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