Last time Rudy Gobert went up against Nikola Jokic, Jokic scored 28 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and tossed 6 assists. Tonight Jokic scored 16 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and 7 assists. Both nights ended up in a loss for the Nuggets.
That’s the way it is with Gobert. You may get a dunk on him, a lucky score here and there, but he will always figure you out and then beat you.
Jokic’s frustration with Gobert boiled over at times with a charge call and 5 turnovers. His inability to do anything against Gobert was a major part of the win tonight for Utah.
Jokic may have the all-star nod, but Gobert gets the win.
There were other huge contributors for the Jazz tonight who came in on the back end of a back to back.
In the first half it was Thabo Sefolosha who hit 3/3 from three helping the Jazz get out to a big lead. Sefolosha gives options to coach Quin Snyder when things aren’t going well for either Favors or Crowder. He also brings a lot of depth to a Jazz team that needs him on nights just like this when players need a rest.
Tonight, Derrick Favors came up big at times, but when rest was needed, having Sefolosha might have been the difference.
Royce O’neale looked like an all world defender guarding Isaiah Thomas. O’neale was so dominant on Thomas that Mike Malone had to pull him for the rest of the game. That type of defense from O’neale is exciting. He’s such a strong, athletic player and tonight, in the first half, you saw what that talent could do. O’neale’s defense is going to become a big deal.
Surprisingly O’neale, who had been on a three point tear of late, went 0/5 from three. When that shot is falling, and when the defense is on point like it was tonight, it’s easy to see what O’neale can bring to the table.
He’s still a shaky ball handler/playmaker, but that defense and shooting is impactful when he’s on the floor.
If anyone had any questions whether Joe Ingles was back, tonight he answered them. Ingles three wasn’t falling (2/9) but that was likely from playing on heavy legs. What set Ingles apart was his fantastic playmaking. Ingles had 10 assists and really kept the Jazz steady through every run the Nuggets made.
When Ingles plays well, the Jazz win. It’s a simple formula.
The player that helped create so much space for the Jazz on the wing, and who scored points when they needed it most? Kyle Korver. His three was falling tonight and his shooting helped extend leads and break Denver runs. That trade looks better and better every game.
Finally, Donovan Mitchell was fantastic again. He was a little frenetic to start the game and missed some shots but settled in as the game went on. His Michael Jordan impression at the end of the game was a good one, too. When he is hitting shots and creating for teammates he looks like an all-time talent.
If he keeps this up, things are going to look very good for Utah come playoff time.