The Utah Jazz rebounded from an exhausting, nerve wracking win over the Toronto Raptors with an energetic, focused brand of basketball by defeating the San Antonio Spurs Monday night by the score of 110-99.
From the opening tip you could feel and see a palpable difference in the intensity and attention the Jazz paid to their calling card—defense.
Led by the Rudy Gobert, the odds on favorite for the 2020-21 Defensive Player of the Year award, the Utah Jazz stifled the Spurs early in the contest, allowing an offensive rating of just 100.0 (per NBA.com) through the first 3 quarters.
The Spurs took just 21 shots at the rim all night, a frequency of just 23%. The “Stifle Tower” was the key ingredient to such deterrance (see below):
Your quick version of Rudy turning back 3 Spurs in the 1st quarter, then nodding to tell them "That's right!" pic.twitter.com/CZOPJczRdg— Ken Clayton (@k_clayt) May 4, 2021
The rim wasn’t the only thing missing from San Antonio’s repertoire Monday night. The Spurs took just 18 3PA’s in the game, tied for the second lowest total of the season.
The Spurs were to “smart shots” as oil is to water.
As big a role as Rudy played in such an outcome, he wasn’t the only active Jazzman on defense.
Throughout the entire game the Jazz managed mischief up and down the court with active hands and smart shifts.
The Jazz generated 10 steals of the 13 forced turnovers of the Spurs with Gobert, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and Jordan Clarkson picking up two each.
The Spurs just never got it going, due in part to the gruesome schedule of late, including a close loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday night.
DeMar DeRozan, who ranked 7th in total made free throws prior to the game, attempted just two all night.
Starting center Jakob Poeltl got into foul trouble early in the game, finishing with just 20 min of action.
Meanwhile the Jazz largely got what they wanted. Hence, a nice little blowout.
The Spurs will stick around town Tuesday in a mini-series that will reconvene Wednesday night at 7 pm.
Let’s take a look at the 4 Factors from the game:
eFG% Advantage: +6.8
OREB% Advantage: +13.5
TOV% Advantage: -3.0
FTArate Advantage: +1.4
Other notable observations from the contest:
- Despite the highlights, Jordan Clarkson finished with 16 points on 20 FGAs while recording 5 turnovers. He was the lone cloud in an otherwise clear, blue sky (so to speak).
- As of Monday night, Rudy Gobert is on pace for 1025 points, 954 rebounds, and 200 blocks. While the chance 1000-1000-200 season is slipping away, what Rudy is doing in this shortened season is nothing short of remarkable.
- After spot minutes and DNP’s over the last handful of games, Miye Oni found himself again in the rotation. Though he finished the night without a shot attempt, he made numerous hustle plays the preserved, extended, and generated possessions. A great sign of continued development.
- Bojan Bogdanovic turned in yet another excellent performance. 25 points on 17 shots with 3 rebounds and 2 assists. His awareness to shoulder the load while the Jazz are without Conley and Mitchell is a welcome sight.
- Trent Forrest continues some really nice play. Despite poor outside shooting, he’s showing an ability to remain efficient and contribute in other areas while play critical minutes in the absence of Jazz starting guards.
MVP - Rudy Gobert
Most nights where Rudy deserves “MVP” honors for the game come via plays and impact not easily recognizable from the traditional box score.
Tonight wasn’t one of those nights.
Gobert posted 24 points, 15 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. Talk about a monster night! See the highlights below:
As mentioned previously, San Antonio’s bigs couldn’t handle Rudy. They cycled through 3 options at the position before realizing it was all in vain.
The Jazz offensive numbers by night’s end weren’t anything to boast about, but were solid enough to turn a dominant defensive outing into a blowout.
That is the genius and value of one Rudy Gobert.