NEW ORLEANS — We all knew there would be rust to shake off when the NBA season restarted Thursday night, but the Pelicans were the worse of two teams in a turnover-heavy tip off the the NBA's restart.
The Pelicans narrowly lost the NBA tip-off to the Utah Jazz, ending the game 106-104 after leading most of the night.
Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 23 points off the bench and Rudy Gobert put up a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans with 23 points and 8 rebounds and JJ Reddick contributed 21 points off the bench.
Zion Williamson played limited minutes, but put up 13 points in the 15 minutes he was on the floor.
Both teams put up 20 turnovers in the game.
The Pelicans led 87-79 going into the 4th Quarter, but couldn’t buy a bucket scoring only 17 points in the 4th as the Jazz slowly closed in to take the lead. Down by two with just under seven seconds left, Brandon Ingram shot from behind the arc and the ball nearly went in before bouncing back out as the buzzer rang out.
Noticeably absent down the stretch was Zion. Head Coach Alvin Gentry seemed frustrated after the game,
"We wish we could've played him down the stretch, but you use the minutes that we're given to use. That's the way it is. Medical people said we played him in the minutes that were allowed for us to play him," Gentry said after the game. "Obviously we're a much better basketball team when he's out on the floor."
Before tipoff, players and coaches locked arms in unity while a taped version of the National Anthem recorded by New Orleans' musician Jon Batiste played over the loudspeaker.
The move was in support of Black Lives Matter and the social justice movement that was thrust into the spotlight after the high-profile killings of several African Americans that burst onto the news while the country was shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Players also wore jerseys with custom messages in place of their names, such as “I Am a Man,” “Say Her Name” and “Equality.”
Another new sight at NBA games: A virtual crowd. Live streamed videos of fans were placed in the stands and fake crowd noise was pumped into the stadium to give the game a more “natural” feel. Whether it worked or not is up for debate though.
Next up for New Orleans are the LA Clippers on Saturday, Aug. 1, at 5 PM CST.