Less than one second into the game, Rudy Gobert was called for a never called foul on a tip-off. Three minutes later, Gobert received his second foul with James Harden exaggerating contact. Five seconds later, Rudy Gobert had enough. Gobert slapped the powder and a drink off the scorer’s table. Rudy Gobert was then ejected from the game because an official overreacted.
Rudy Gobert's night ends very early after getting ejected 3 minutes into the game pic.twitter.com/ONonD6YT91— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) December 7, 2018
Everyone expected that event to fire up Utah, but not for an entire game. That ejection jump started Utah’s underdog mentality and they never looked back while routing the Houston Rockets 118 to 91.
The Utah Jazz (13-13) rise to .500 basketball. They wouldn’t have been at this point had they not had big performances in the absence of Rudy Gobert. Most would expect if Donovan Mitchell only scored 6 points and Kyle Korver scored zero, that this would be a blowout in the other direction, but not so.
The first two who stepped up big at the Center position were Derrick Favors and Ekpe Udoh.
Derrick Favors was amazing tonight. Playing fantastic defense while scoring 24 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. He was hyper efficient from the field, shooting 10-13 (77% FG%). Derrick Favors has sacrificed a ton this season. He has played out of position, been taking less minutes, and he STILL comes in ready to play big in moments like this.
Taking over Derrick Favors backup center minutes was Ekpe Udoh who had 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block. His defense was impeccable. Most notably how Houston kept trying to isolate him against Chris Paul and Ekpe Udoh didn’t flinch. He stopped him on almost every switch.
Donovan Mitchell was blanketed in coverage all night long. Instead of forcing Utah into bad shots, he allowed the team to step up while all the defensive attention was on him. Big development for Mitchell.
While the attention was on Spida, Utah got big games from their pair of Aussies. Joe Ingles had 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Dante Exum had 15 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Joe Ingles who has taken a bit of a backseat since Kyle Korver arrived into town was lights out from downtown (4-6 from three) and helped the Jazz initiate their offense. Meanwhile, Dante Exum looks to be getting his confidence back. The tough love of Snyder seems to have worked with Exum showing his patented defense while getting to the rim with ease.
Ricky Rubio had a solid game of 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists. More importantly, he only had 1 turnover. That trend can be applied to the entire Utah Jazz team. They forced 23 turnovers while they themselves only had 12. Turnovers have been Utah’s achilles heel. If they clean that part of their game, their defense suddenly becomes rock solid.
This is Utah’s second straight blowout. They destroyed the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday then they rocked the Houston Rockets. Since acquiring Kyle Korver, Utah is 4-1 with wins over Charlotte, Brooklyn, San Antonio, and Houston. That trade was the right shot in the arm for this Jazz team. They are playing with more urgency and better pace.
The Utah Jazz will now travel to the Lone Star state to play the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday for the second time in less than a week. This is part of a quick two game road trip where they’ll play the Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder on a quick back to back.