Play­ers, coaches kneel be­fore re­open­ing night

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS -

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Black play­ers were next to white play­ers. Coaches from one team were next to their com­pa­tri­ots from the op­pos­ing side. Many locked arms with the man next to them, some shut their eyes tightly, a few, in­clud­ing LeBron James, briefly raised a fist into the air or pointed sky­ward.

When it comes to de­mand­ing change, the league stands united — and Thurs­day, the four teams that played on the first night of the league’s restart showed that by not stand­ing. The Jazz, Pel­i­cans, Lak­ers and Clip­pers are among 22 teams fight­ing for play­off seed­ing while the Bulls watch from home.

The Jazz and Pel­i­cans knelt along­side one an­other dur­ing “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner,” their way of join­ing the cho­rus of those de­mand­ing racial jus­tice and equal­ity in so­ci­ety. In the sec­ond game, James’ Lak­ers and the Clip­pers did the same dur­ing the an­them.

Even the ref­er­ees took a knee dur­ing the pregame scene.

In the first game of the restart, Rudy Gobert sank two free throws with 6.9 sec­onds left to cap a 14-point, 12-re­bound and three-block per­for­mance, giv­ing the Jazz a 106-104 vic­tory over the Pel­i­cans.

New Or­leans, which led for most of the game and by as many as 16, nearly pulled out the vic­tory as time ex­pired when Bran­don In­gram’s three-point at­tempt rimmed out in a bit­ter end to his 23-point night.

Zion Wil­liamson, who missed nearly two weeks of prac­tice af­ter leav­ing the team for a fam­ily med­i­cal mat­ter July 16, scored 13 points in a lit­tle over 15 min­utes, high­lighted by a cou­ple al­ley-oop dunks, one on a nearly half­court lob from Lonzo Ball. He left the game with 7:19 left in the fourth quarter.

In the sec­ond game of the dou­ble­header, LeBron James had the go-ahead bas­ket with 12.8 sec­onds left and the Lak­ers moved closer to clinch­ing the No. 1 seed in the Western Con­fer­ence play­offs by top­ping the Clip­pers 103101. The Lak­ers moved 6½ games ahead of the Clip­pers.

Paul Ge­orge’s three-poin­ter with 1:50 left cut the Lak­ers’ lead to 99-98. James mus­cled his way to a layup on the next pos­ses­sion, and then Ge­orge hit an­other three to tie the game at 101 with 29 sec­onds re­main­ing.

James fol­lowed his own miss down the lane for the go-ahead bas­ket, then was bril­liant on the last de­fen­sive pos­ses­sion — forc­ing the ball out of Leonard’s hands and cov­er­ing Ge­orge as his three-point try at the buzzer mis­fired.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.