by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Alex Goodlett of Getty Images.
The Utah Jazz (15-12) takes on the Minnesota Timberwolves (12-12) in Rudy Gobert‘s return to Utah.
Rudy the Gobarian
Before tip-off, fans gathered earlier just to have the chance to see Rudy Gobert’s (22/13/1) warmup. Acknowledging the crowd as they cheered during his pregame routine and even smiling at the resident DJ for playing some French rap music.
Ryan Miller on Twitter: “Rudy Gobert gets a nice cheer as he comes out for pregame work. https://t.co/PNSmDVZ5E2” / Twitter
After a warm welcome for Gobert, Utah fans needed to put their emotions aside and cheer for their home team. Utah’s defense took note of NBA statistics and tried to force Minnesota on the perimeter. Minnesota shot 1/8 (12.5%) from the arc during the first quarter, but Utah could break away with those numbers. Utah shot 5/14 (35.7%) from the perimeter. Starting off the game, Utah almost exclusively shot from the perimeter before the first timeout of the game. Malik Beasley (23/4/1) made the first two-point shot for Utah after the team went 5/8 (62.5%) from three. Even with another on-the-fly lineup, Utah managed to make Anthony Edwards (14/6/2) almost nonexistent in the first. Shooting 1/5 (20%) for the quarter and having four of his seven points coming from the free throw line. Even with a shooting quarter for both teams, Minnesota’s seven made free throws gave them the lead 28-24 going into the second.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “Nickeil said: 🏀 🏀 🏀 🏀 🏀 🏀 🏀 🏀 🏀 🗑 https://t.co/RsLm6OAIv3” / Twitter
The second quarter managed to provide no answers for Utah. Utah shot 17/44 (38.6%) from the field but managed to keep Minnesota at 3/14 (21.4%) from behind the arc. Minnesota continued to drive and get foul calls leading to them being 16/20 (80%) from the line. Not a lot on the offensive end for Utah as they only scored 22 points for the quarter. Even the defensive anchor Walker Kessler (6 points and 7 rebounds) was unable to produce in the first half with Gobert in the way. The inability to score put Utah in a pretty large hole as they went into the half with a 61-46 deficit.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “MIK3! https://t.co/93OzTmnuFF” / Twitter
Rocky Mountain Blues
Utah managed to still struggle from three after the half. Shooting 2/10 (20%) from beyond the perimeter but managed to hold Minnesota to only seven made baskets. Utah went on the attack in the third quarter as they took 12 attempts compared to Minnesota’s four attempts. Even without the ability to make threes, Utah was able to deplete their 15-point deficit. After a nine-point quarter from Jordan Clarkson (21/2/3), Utah outscored Minnesota 33-21 and brought their deficit down to 82-79 going into the fourth quarter.
Utah Jazz on Twitter: “these @JordanClarksons passes 🤯 https://t.co/Y9KEOVmCSo” / Twitter
In the fourth, Minnesota went against the analytics and hit almost every perimeter shot they took. Going 7/11 (63.6%) from the perimeter when they have been in the bottom five in the league. Minnesota even went 7/8 (87.5%) within the perimeter. Kyle Anderson (15/7/12) managed to be a problem for Utah’s defense creating openings for D’Angelo Russell (30/3/2). Russell shot 7/7 (100%) from the field and 6/6 (100%) from three. Utah couldn’t find an answer for Russell even with their zone defense that had been effective for them the last few games. Gobert added salt to the wound shooting an uncontested layup with seconds left in the game to put Minnesota up by 10. After a quick inbound pass by Utah, the game was over as Minnesota won 118-108.
(1) Utah Jazz on Twitter: “dirty, chai ☕️ https://t.co/XHmsGOvOug” / Twitter
After the final buzzer, Beasley approached Gobert and exchanged some words with him about his final shot. Beasley went on to say what happened during the exchange during his post-game interview.
“Just disrespectful. It’s one of the unwritten rules of basketball. I told him that.”Malik Beasley speaking on Rudy Gobert’s layup in the final seconds of the game. -Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. @andyblarsen
Utah hits the road to take on their division rivals the Denver Nuggets on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. MT on AT&T SportsNet.