Jazz 106 – Pelicans 104
Mike Conley looked a lot like the Memphis-version of himself as he helped the Jazz to a comeback win over the Pelicans in the first game of the restarted season, scoring 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting (4-of-4 from the line) to go with two triples, four assists, one steal, one block, one rebound and two turnovers in 34 minutes. His defense was superb, as he held Lonzo Ball to just 2-of-13 shooting, and he also finished with a team-high plus/minus rating of +12.
Conley’s first step seemed a bit quicker on Thursday than it was at the start of the season, and he was scoring in a variety of ways, so the time off clearly did him well. Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist surgery) no longer being around to jack up shots means that the Jazz will now be even more reliant upon Conley’s offense, and he does appear to finally be getting more comfortable in Quin Snyder’s system. I’m rooting for him, but I’d be reluctant to use any of these games in the restarted season as an advertisement for next-year-Conley because Bogdanovic isn’t there and he’s a significant part of the offense.
Donovan Mitchell also dropped in 20 points (6-of-14 FG, 6-of-7 FT) in the win, adding two triples, five boards, five dimes, three steals, one block and just two turnovers across 36 minutes. He got off to a slow start, connecting on just two of his seven field goal attempts through the first half of action, but he came through in the clutch, scoring eight of his 20 points down the stretch of the fourth quarter.
Rudy Gobert, the man who served as the catalyst for the NBA’s fourth-month hiatus, scored the first points of the game and finished with 14 points (5-of-9 FG, 4-of-5 FT), 12 rebounds, three blocks and three turnovers in 34 minutes. As per usual, his defense was stellar, but the problem for Utah is their team falls apart when he’s not on the floor. Utah’s starting five posted an impressive net rating of 48.6, but their most-used lineup sans Gobert was -13.6. There’s not much Quin Snyder can do to correct this issue other than expanding Gobert’s minutes, but at the same time, there’s not really a need for Utah to go all out during these seeding games as they’re already guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and there is no home-court advantage at play. It is what it is.
Zion Williamson was limited to just 15 minutes on Thursday, so his night concluded with just 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with one assist and two turnovers. The Pelicans medical staff is calling the shots here, and they’re obviously going to be extremely cautious, so Zion probably won’t be a great guy to target in DFS during these seeding games. At least, not until we know he’s officially without restrictions – which is something that might not happen at all.
Brandon Ingram went 7-of-20 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line on his way to 23 points, two 3-pointers, eight rebounds, one block and just one turnover across 33 minutes. He got off to a hot start, scoring 15 of his 23 points through the first half of action on 6-of-11 shooting, but Utah did a nice job of clamping down on him and taking him out of possessions after halftime. Still, it was a solid performance overall, and while he did miss a wide-open J.J. Redick on New Orleans’ final possession, he did get a decent look on his potential game-winning 3-point attempt; it just didn’t drop.
Pelicans looked for Triple screen for JJ & Ingram kept it. Might have been open, we don't know if the coaches gave him option/look for it. pic.twitter.com/N3tioNHxDP
— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) July 31, 2020
Jrue Holiday hit 9-of-18 shots on his way to 20 points, two 3-pointers, five rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block and an unfortunate six turnovers across 37 minutes. He’s uber-talented, but too often he fails to assert himself in the offense, and that’s why he was such a disappointment to those who drafted him in the first-round this season. Holiday has the talent to be a top-15 player, but realistically, he’s more of a top-40 guy due to the way he plays the game.
Lonzo Ball had a game to forget, bricking all four of his 3-point attempts and both of his free throws, ending his evening with just four points (2-of-13 FG), six rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three turnovers over 28 minutes. He was ballin’ out right as the season hit pause, but he’ll now need to try and find his rhythm again, which could prove to be difficult in this truncated final stretch of the 2019-20 season.
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Lakers 103 – Clippers 101
Anthony Davis bullied his way to 34 points (8-of-19 FG, 16-of-17 FT), eight rebounds, two triples, four assists and four turnovers across 35 minutes. It would have been nice had he also brought some blocks and steals to the stat sheet, but it was a solid night for AD overall, and his eye looked fine.
LeBron James didn’t have the most efficient night, as he finished just 6-of-19 from the field for 16 points, but he rounded out his stat line with two triples, 11 boards, seven dimes, one steal, one block (and five turnovers) over 34 minutes. However, he played some phenomenal defense against both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and he hit an impressive game-winner on a put-back after he attempted to draw a foul.
LeBron James, CLUTCH.
— The Association on FOX (@TheAssociation) July 31, 2020
While both LBJ and AD played a full allotment of minutes on Thursday night, I am nervous about their minutes being monitored during these seeding games, as home-court advantage is non-existent and they nearly have the No. 1 seed locked up. It’s possible the Lakers wanted a statement win in what may have been a preview of the Western Conference Finals, and that’s why the minutes weren’t measured, but I’d be nervous about deploying the Lakers for their sixth seeding game against the Pacers – or their final one against the Kangz.
Outside of AD and Bron, there aren’t any really good fantasy options on the Lakers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can get hot from time to time, but it’s tough to catch him on the right night (Thursday was not his night), and there’s enough depth at his position (Alex Caruso, Dion Waiters, J.R. Smith) that Frank Vogel can simply pull him when he’s having an off-day. Maybe if Bron or AD gets rested, then it’ll be time to use KCP or Caruso or Waiters as punt targets in DFS.
Reggie Jackson got the start over Patrick Beverley, but that likely had to do with Beverley taking some time away from the team and missing some scrimmages/practices. Jackson also wasn’t great in the starting spot, going 3-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line on his way to 10 points, one 3-pointer, six rebounds, four assists and four turnovers across 34 minutes. Beverley finished with 12 points (3-of-7 FG, 4-of-5 FT), two treys, one rebound, one assist and two turnovers in 16 minutes off the bench, but once he gets back into game shape, I’d expect him to replace Jackson in the starting unit. This also has the potential to devolve into a value-killing, timeshare situation between the two.
Paul George was phenomenal, netting 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting (2-of-4 from the line) to go with six triples, five boards, three assists, three steals and five turnovers across 34 minutes. He looks as healthy as ever and he’ll be a fun guy to target in DFS during these seeding games, particularly on the nights that Kawhi Leonard sits.
Speaking of Kawhi, he did appear somewhat rusty on offense, but he still finished with 28 points (7-of-16 FG, 11-of-13 FT), three triples, three boards, four assists, two steals, two blocks and three turnovers in 33 minutes. The Clippers due have a back-to-back set on August 8 (vs. POR) and August 9 (vs. BKN), and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see Kawhi sit out both of those games. When/if that happens, be sure to jump on PG-13 in DFS.