NBA returns as Jazz edge Pelicans in Orlando bubble

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The Utah Jazz claimed a narrow 106-104 win over the New Orleans Pelicans as the NBA made its long-awaited return amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 forced the 2019-20 season to be postponed in March, but the league resumed behind closed doors in Orlando, Florida on Thursday.

Donovan Mitchell (20 points) and Rudy Gobert (14 points, 12 rebounds) produced when it mattered most to lead the Jazz past the Pelicans at Walt Disney World Resort, where both teams kneeled in unison for the United States national anthem.

Zion Williamson (13 points) was declared fit to play for the playoff-chasing Pelicans, having been listed as questionable, though he only featured for 15 minutes.

The number one draft pick helped the Pelicans earn a half-time lead over the Jazz, who trailed by eight points heading into the final quarter.

However, the Jazz – fourth in the Western Conference – rallied on the back of an 11-1 run midway through to the fourth period to take the lead.

In a tense finish, Gobert – the first NBA player to contract coronavirus which ultimately led to the league's hiatus – made a pair of free throws to put the Jazz ahead for good.

Brandon Ingram (23 points) missed a late jumper as the Pelicans fell to 28-37 in the race for the postseason in the west.