It was a much-awaited return, and the Jazz shared a video tribute in the 1st quarter commemorating their former star center.
I was near the Wolves bench, and you could see Gobert enjoyed the video and then waived to the fans. It was nice to see the Jazz organization do an excellent job of welcoming one of the Jazz greats back and showing him that appreciation. As I watched, I couldn’t help but think that it’s very likely Gobert will have a jersey in the rafters at some point, and rightfully so.
As for the game, it was a good one. The Jazz struggled to defend the Wolves, especially in transition. So many buckets came on outlets after missed shots, a reminder that, as good as the Jazz offense is, the defense has a long way to go. Regardless of the Jazz's defensive issues, they found to fight back from a 14-point deficit to tie the game. The fight of this Jazz team has been the calling card all season, and it’s impressive how they never give up.
With the game on the line, and everything tied up, D’Angelo Russell put the Jazz to bed with an outstanding offensive night. It felt like he couldn’t miss in the 4th quarter and you can see it in his stat line. He was 12/16 from the field and 6/9 from three. It was a 30-point night that Utah had no answer for.
The story of the game came at the end when the Wolves had the game won, and with a few seconds left, they passed it to Gobert, and he scored a last-second dunk. After the dunk, Malike Beasley took offense and had words with Gobert.
Here’s what he had to say.
Malik Beasley: it was disrespectful. Unwritten rule of basketball. I told him that— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) December 10, 2022
Here’s what Gobert had to say about it.
Rudy Gobert, on the late dunk and subsequent scrum: “I’ve been taught to play basketball to the last second. For me, there was never any intent to disrespect anybody. These guys who stepped in front of me, they weren’t going to do anything anyway. … It kind of ruined my moment.” pic.twitter.com/WlOzLFjdcr— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 10, 2022
Whether you like it or dislike it, here’s what happened the last time the Jazz played the Wolves.
‘There’s a code, just hold on to the ball and let the clock expire’ -Jazz announcer pic.twitter.com/4DoZQx0CaM— Mason (@Masonfrfr) December 10, 2022
Gobert also talked about the fans and Utah.
Rudy Gobert, reflecting on his return to SLC: “It was hard for me to really go through all the emotions because I was so focused on the game. But hearing all the love, the fans … it was a little emotional. … The fans booing me a little at the free-throw line, I respect.” pic.twitter.com/Q1dd96ca3b— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 10, 2022
Rudy Gobert still has enough love for Utah that he’s not planning to sell his house here: “I’ve built so much amazing relationships here over the years. … I hope to be able to come back when I can. … I would rent it if I know someone that I like and that I trust!” pic.twitter.com/B9AbMahyTF— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 10, 2022
All in all, it was a fun, strange night. It had a little controversy mixed with emotion and some drama which seemed somehow fitting for Gobert’s return. Rudy Gobert will be a Jazzman for life, and it will be great to have his #27 put into the rafters one day. Tonight was the first glimpse at what that will be like.