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David Edole

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Jazz's Royce O'Neale draws the toughest assignment in the postseason - trying to make life tough for James Harden - Apr 23, 2019

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Royce O'Neale (198-SF-93, college: Baylor)< has had the most difficult homework assignment possible throughout this first-round series. And he knows that when Quin Snyder calls for No. 23 to spring off the Jazz bench, No. 23 knows exactly what he's being sent into the game to do: that's do his absolute best to try and pester the most talented offensive basketball player on the planet.

'You know, he comes in, and he plays his ass off,' said forward Joe Ingles.

The second-year guard has no choice. In this first-round series against James Harden and the Houston Rockets, O'Neale is being tasked with making life uncomfortable for the reigning league MVP.

'That's our preferred matchup on James. They know that. It's not a secret,' Snyder said. 'That's a lot to ask a lot of a guy, a second-year player, that's continued to improve being available and ready to do that in a situation and then having, in a different context, having a different role and being able to process that and not letting that distract you from doing your job and playing to your strengths.'

Snyder's referenced how O'Neale's role during the regular season isn't as pronounced as when the postseason rolls around and the 6-foot-6 guard is suddenly thrown into the fire of facing the NBA's most elite player with a ball in his hands.

'His size makes it easier for him to do the things I was talking about as far as not getting bumped off as much, not fouling, he played with as much force as anybody,' Snyder said.

O'Neale has averaged 23 minutes per game off the bench in the first three games of the series, more than any other Jazz player. As a rookie last year, O'Neale's role expanded, too, as point guard Ricky Rubio missed the second-round series against the Rockets. So he's had experience facing Harden.

'Last year was the first year [and] not knowing what to expect, it's a whole new season [in the playoffs],' O'Neale said. 'Having last year under my belt, me and Donovan [Mitchell], we know what to expect now. We know we have to bring more effort than everybody else.'

By Christopher Kamrani

Pan American Games Draw LIMA, PERU - 3 hours ago
FIBA held the draw for groups for men's basketball of the Pan American Games in Lima 2019, leaving the Virgin Islands in group A with Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the United States. A select team of men's basketball standouts from the BIG EAST Conference will represent the United States at the 2019 Pan American Game while Puerto Rico will be sending their B team as their A team is set to play in the World Games. While Group B consists of Dominican Republic, Argentina, Uruguay and Mexico. Pa...   [read more]

Claxton: I would love to play with UGA's incoming class - 2 days ago
By CHANCE LINTON Georgia forward Nicolas Claxton (211-SF-99) was on hand in Chicago last week for the 2019 NBA Draft Combine, but he's facing a major decision in the coming week. Claxton declared for the NBA Draft following a breakout sophomore season, but he still hasn't made a final decision on whether to return to Georgia for his junior year. The deadline for him to withdraw from the draft and retain his college eligibility is May 29. Ahead of the NBA Combine, he sat down with Draft...   [read more]

NBA Draft Combine Notebook: Nicolas Claxton Displays Versatility - 5 days ago
CHICAGO - The on-court portion of the draft combine wrapped up on Friday, with two more scrimmages giving prospects a chance to perform in front of the entire league. As a whole, five-on-five play was heavily watered down this year as a vast majority of potential first-round picks opted not to play, aiming to protect their draft stock. Regardless, there were a number of intriguing players who benefited this week. There were also some guys who struggled. Some of the more noteworthy perform...   [read more]

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