There are a lot of games where players are happy to just get a win and go home. Tonight, it was clear that Rudy Gobert wanted to send a message that he was a superior player than Lamarcus Aldridge.
Not only was Gobert a force on offense, his all-world defense crushed Aldridge and the Spurs. Aldridge scored 15 points on 31% shooting. Because Gobert was so dominant, the rest of the Jazz could defend their guys without having to double the midrange-shooting big man and look for steals and opportunities. As a team, the Jazz had 7 steals.
If you voted for Lamarcus Aldridge over Rudy Gobert, you should feel bad. It’s like going to a great restaurant and you pick the wrong thing, but at the table next to you you see someone having a “When Harry Met Sally” reaction to what they’re eating.
Another interesting thing happened this game that might be a trend for the future. Royce O’Neale got a lot of minutes playing the power forward, and while he did it, the Jazz went nuclear on the Spurs.
O’Neale was a +9 for the game while shooting 4/4 from three. His spot-up shooting is a fantastic weapon and, if the Jazz can take advantage of that from a position they desperately need, should be something that unlocks some offensive firepower for the future.
Donovan Mitchell’s 3pt shooting seems to be in a bit of a slump again lately, but his playmaking sure hasn’t.
When the shot wasn’t falling for him, Mitchell took over the game in the 3rd quarter making plays for his teammates. His passing ability, combined with his quickness and penetration, opens things up for his teammates in a way only seen by players like Russell Westbrook and John Wall. The difference is that his shooting can set him apart in so many ways.
Give him time, and a chance to solidify his shooting, and he’s going to be the perennial all-star everyone expects.