On a night when the Jazz were without Ricky Rubio and Jae Crowder for injuries you’d think they’d likely struggle somewhat. Instead they ran away from the Knicks from the start and never looked back.
Dante Exum and Rudy Gobert connected all night with lobs at the rim. Exum has one of the fasted first steps in the league and tonight showed he is learning how to use it. He’d blow by his defender and put the opposing center into a difficult decision: stop the layup or continue to guard Rudy Gobert? Tonight they chose to try to stop Dante and he threw perfect lobs to Gobert and Derrick Favors racking up 13 assists with 12 before halftime!
.@daanteee: 13p/13a #TeamIsEverything | #TakeNote pic.twitter.com/rH4HDyXQwJ— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 30, 2018
Just as impressive as the lob game, Exum’s was also able to find the corner three multiple times. Because Exum can get to the paint at will, it allows for multiple opportunities. As the defense collapsed tonight and tried to stop the bleeding at the rim he found corner shooters. One of the biggest benefactors was Kyle Korver was 5/8 from three.
Rudy Gobert did work against a Knicks frontcourt that was completely outmatched. Tonight Gobert showed how he is able to dominate games in so many ways. Whether he’s on defense guarding the paint like no one else can in the league, or running a perfect pick and roll on offense, Gobert is a superstar.
What’s exciting is when you consider Dante’s speed, and combine it with elite screens from Rudy Gobert, it’s hard not to see this being a regular thing.
It’s important now for Utah to find out if this can continue.
It might be a good idea to give Rubio a few more games to heal up and give Exum a few more starts leading up to January 15th when the Jazz will need to make some decisions about the future. Or at least give Exum some chance to play with Gobert more. Utah’s most used two-man lineup is Rubio and Gobert. That might change a little after tonight.