The NBA returned in earnest today as eight teams took part in scrimmages — and it was a good time for everyone except Australia’s Aron Baynes.
It was revealed the Phoenix Suns centre tested positive for COVID-19 and is still waiting to join his teammates in Orlando.
Baynes, who needs to return two negative tests before he can enter the bubble, said he was scared about the impact on his family while isolating at home in Phoenix.
“That was the scariest moment for me because I was putting my family at risk at that point,” he said. “They were exposed to it at a later point so they didn’t get it at the same time as me, but they were also positive at a later point.
“The biggest positive to come out of it is that I was the worse-affected. They all had very minimal symptoms where it actually put be on my butt for a full week. I slept for four days straight. There was one point where I didn’t see back-to-back hours until four days of being in bed asleep.”
But that was the only dampener as basketball fans rejoiced at the NBA’s return.
BOL BOL STEALS SHOW AS NUGGETS GO BIG
The Nuggets started their centre at point guard and a seven-footer at wing.Source:Supplied
Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Torrey Craig were unable for Denver’s game against Washington so the Nuggets unveiled one of the tallest starting fives in NBA history.
Nikola Jokic — all 213cm of him — started at point guard in a back court that also featured forward Jerami Grant.
But it was the appearance of 218cm rookie Bol Bol that was most exciting for Denver fans.
The son of former fan favourite Manute Bol hasn’t played a minute in the NBA after missing time with injury and playing in the G-League.
But the defensive length, long-range shooting ability and decent handle for a player his size was on show as produced a 16-point 10-rebound double double.
It was enough to think he might get some minutes when it counts next month as the Nuggets knocked off the no-name Wizards 89-82.
Without star guard Bradley Beal the Wizards are expected to be roadkill in Orlando and it looked that way as only rookie Rui Hachimura (18 points) really hit his straps.
The Lakers wouldn’t have enjoyed a 22-point outing for the Nuggets by Troy Daniels, who they let go earlier in the season after he was forced out of their rotation. After losing Avery Bradley (chose not to play for personal reasons) and Rajon Rondo (broken thumb) they might have had room for him.
NOAH STARTS AS CLIPPERS COMPETE
Joakim Noah's first bucket as a Clipper. pic.twitter.com/B6IjWNolSS
Many teams have new faces to integrate before the official games begin on July 31, including new Clippers centre Joakim Noah.
The veteran big man started for the championship contender in a 99-90 win against the Magic, scoring four points and grabbing five boards in 15 minutes.
LA didn’t play any of their starters more than 20 minutes as stars Paul George (18 points) and Kawhi Leonard (nine) eased their way back. Lou Williams led all scorers with 22 points off the bench.
Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac were the only Orlando players not to appear as 14 Magic players took the court. Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and 10 boards to lead his team.
right where Paul George left off pic.twitter.com/8ftHTF7H55
NO-NAME NETS HAVE NO HOPE
If you think Washington is understrength take a look at Brooklyn.
Already without injured star duo Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets came to Orlando missing Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler and Taurean Prince — who all chose to stay home.
The argument in the team even being in the bubble will only grow stronger after a 99-68 thrashing at the hands of the Zion Williamson-less Pelicans.
New Orleans barely got out of first gear as they prepare to start the remainder of the season without Williamson, who had to leave Orlando to deal with a family emergency and whose return remains unknown.
E’Twaun Moore and Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the Pels with 14 points. The Nets had four players in double figures — Dzanan Musa (11), Rodions Kurucs (10), Caris LeVert (10) and Jarrett Allen (10) — but recent signing Jamal Crawford did not suit up.
STILL TO COME …
Miami Heat v Sacramento Kings
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