Having been only one week and a half removed from a stomach bug that made me a prisoner of a bathroom for a few days, watching what Rudy Gobert did against the Brooklyn Nets while fighting the flu seemed superhuman. The big man having been armed with a couple IVs of fluids before the game destroyed the Brooklyn Nets as he tallied 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 3 blocks in Utah’s 114-98 win. Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune even mentioned that shortly after the game Gobert ralphed as his body worn out by a flu and a full basketball game was most likely resetting.
The Utah Jazz only trailed in the 1st quarter then in the late 1st and 2nd quarter they opened that lead. A lot of credit goes to Utah’s bench that is anchored by Derrick Favors. Derrick Favors continues to show how valuable he is to this Utah Jazz team even if his fit is incredibly unorthodox in the 4 out spacing era. In only 22 minutes he put up 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks. That beasting mostly came in the third quarter.
Ricky Rubio continues his “it shouldn’t work but look at that insane plus/minus” stretch. This was his third game with what should be an iffy box score, but the team has run incredibly well with him out there since his return from injury. He was a dreadful 2 of 13 from the field (15.4%), but he got to the line for 8 FTAs, making them all. He had 6 rebounds and 6 assist with only two turnovers. The most important thing Utah needs out of Rubio is him keeping his turnovers down. He’s such a plus defender that him being a game manager on the offensive end from the point guard position provides enough for Utah’s offense to work. It also show how starved Utah is for basic point guard production.
Donovan Mitchell promised a new year and new him, so far his three point percentage is showing that. Since the All-Star break, he’s shooting 39.1% from three and inches ever closer to 40%. He is now 34.2% from three for the season and has now officially improved his three point percentage from last season with 13 games remaining on the season. He has made this improvement with more of the Jazz offense relying upon him as Utah has been without point guards for almost two months of the season and with teams focusing even more in on him. If Utah leaves the offseason with a significant upgrade at guard, Donovan Mitchell could take a monumental leap in improvement as a result. Donovan finished this game with his “pedestrian” stat line of 25 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists.
Let’s talk a little bit about Georges Niang, shall we? In the 2nd quarter, he came in for Thabo’s designated minutes because, well, Thabo’s out with an injury. In this last little stretch, Georges has risen to the occasion and tonight was no exception. He was 2 of 2 with a floater and three pointer. Most importantly, he didn’t look like he had to be coaxed into taking the shots. The floater he actually took DeMarre Carroll off the dribble and hit the floater. On his three pointer, the Jazz were on a fast break and Rubio found Niang in the corner as Carroll helped off as Rubio broke the paint. Niang took the three quickly and decisively. Niang developing as a break in case of glass stretch four is a big development.
Notes and Takeaways
Utah dominated in this game. At one point they had a 26 point lead. Fantastic.
Since All-Star break, Joe Ingles has been shooting an un-Ingles-like 35% from three. Joe Ingles was 1 of 5 from the field tonight but added in 6 points and 4 assists.
Spencer Dinwiddie is a fun player. Brooklyn found a good one in him. In Brooklyn’s surprise season, I have no idea what direction they go with their core or even who they choose. But with improving young pieces like De’Angelo Russell, Dinwiddie, and Caris Lavert, they’re doing good things. They remind me of Utah’s 2003-2004 surprise team lead by Andrei Kirilenko. I’m not sure if combined they have the right core, but I respect the hell out of how they’re not tanking in the East and scraping wins together.