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The resumption of an NBA season like no other kicks of with two monster games Friday morning.
Now it’s the Battle of LA with the Lakers and Clippers squaring off (scroll down for live blog).
Stay tuned here all day for the latest updates, live scores and highlights as the sport that shut down when Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 more than four months ago.
While the NBA world was focussed on one rookie phenomenon on re-opening night, it was another former rookie star who stole the show in the final stretch as Utah escaped over New Orleans in a thriller.
Zion Williamson was placed on a minutes restriction, much to the chagrin of adoring fans, after he cleared quarantine and rejoined the Pelicans in the Orlando this week.
But despite his capped playing time, the 129kg Duke freak continued to prove he’s a genuine problem for the NBA, flexing his power and skill with a range of dazzling dunks and no-look passes.
Pelicans teammate Brandon Ingram was the star for New Orleans, and despite dominating the scoreboard for large stretches it was Donovan Mitchell who won the day for Utah.
The former rookie of the year nominee (remember that feud with Ben Simmons?) lit it up down the stretch to lead Joe Ingles and the Jazz to a 106-104 win.
You simply couldn’t ask for more on opening (reopening?) day in the NBA than two title contenders, bitter rivals, boasting a stack of superstars.
For what it’s worth, the Lakers will start favourites with the bookmakers, with Sportsbet giving them a $1.45 to $2.76 head-to-head advantage.
The Pelicans 129kg rookie phenom cleared quarantine this week and started against the Utah Jazz, but he appeared to be placed on a severe minutes restriction.
Coach Alvin Gentry is reportedly limiting Williamson to “three-minute bursts”, meaning the most anticipated player in the league will rarely be seen on (re)opening night.
If this is how the #Pelicans are going to handle Zion’s playing time, you can forget about them. #NBA He played three minutes, and has been out in real time for at least 15 minutes. It’s a joke.
When he did start, however, he started hot, proving he’s a monstrous task for would-be defenders to handle.
Zion is back on the court after playing just 3 minutes in the first ….. and he immediately scores.He’s up to 7 points.
Meanwhile Joe Inglis made a hot start for Utah with six points and two steals in the opening quarter.
Utah’s French big man courted controversy and derision when he jokingly swiped his hand on the phones and recorders of reporters in a press conference as COVID-19 struck the world.
Gobert tested positive for the virus, the first major star in the sports world to do so, triggering the shutdown of the NBA in March, before all other major sports followed.
Gobert was criticised by even his own teammates, with Donovan Mitchell fuming when he too contracted the virus.
NBA players are ordering an insane amount of packages into their bubble to make them feel at home.
During a segment on ESPN’s “The Jump,” Rachel Nichols explored the shipments coming into the Disney bubble’s massive shipment facility and showed off a wall full of Clorox wipes in storage to clean everything off.
“Guys have had … comforts shipped in to make them feel like at home,” Nichols said. “There’s been a couch that’s come through here, wine coolers. Udonis Haslem from the Heat says that he’s had $5,000 in Amazon orders come here. This is thousands of boxes a day.”
Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker told GQ that he brought 103 pairs of sneakers with him to Orlando, and is continuing to receive shipments of more clothes and shoes on a daily basis.
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World news – ZA – LIVE NBA: ‘Let him go’ — 129kg rookie freak held back in heart-stopper; Clippers snubbed