Just 2:47 into the Utah/Houston game, Rudy Gobert was called for his second foul of the game. He gave James Harden a little push with his forearm (as many post players do when establishing position) and Harden flopped as he usually does when other players get near him.
Gobert, mad at this soft call, along with a highly questionable foul call on the tip-off, slapped something on the scores table (one of the chalk bottles?) into next week. This display of frustration earned him an ejection. Not (just) a technical foul. An EJECTION. The same penalty reserved for players who throw punches and commit egregious fouls that endanger opponents.
Rudy Gobert got ejected less than 3 minutes into the game... pic.twitter.com/ZXqaXklXHW— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 7, 2018
This shafting of Gobert by the officials looks incredibly suspicious after the Frenchman criticized referees for not being consistent in their calls. Jazz media guys like Tony Jones and David Locke argued that this incident either validated Gobert’s point or was likely retribution for his words.
After the game, Gobert spoke briefly, but didn’t criticize the refs, instead addressing his reaction to the situation.
Rudy Gobert speaks postgame: pic.twitter.com/cawcuT59mc— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) December 7, 2018
It may interest some of you to know that the official responsible for ejecting Rudy is none other than Courtney Kirkland, the official who made headlines in one of the worst ways almost exactly a year ago for an altercation he had with Golden State point guard Shaun Livingston. Kirkland was suspended for his actions, but it’s unlikely he’ll face any for Thursday’s debacle.
Also, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, this sub three-minute ejection is the fasted ejection in the last 15 seasons. So even on an off day, Gobert is setting NBA records.
The rest of the Jazz deserve a lot of props for how they handled Gobert’s ejection. Losing their best player didn’t make them collapse, give up or falter in the slightest. Utah outscored the Rockets 23-14 the rest of the first quarter after Gobert made his early trip to the showers. At halftime, the Jazz still held an eight-point lead, then went on to score 38 points in the third while holding Houston to just 11. That effectively sealed the deal and had the reserves in for a substantial chunk of the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, in the heat created by the Gobert ejection, it’s easy to forget one of the heroes of the game: Derrick Favors.
Even with the trade talk, losing his starting job (kind of, maybe, we’ll see) and a decrease in minutes, Favors has not wavered in his resolve to dominate on the basketball court.
After Rudy Gobert was ejected, Favors was called upon to fill the enormous void left by the reigning DPOY. The 10-year NBA veteran responded by posting a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds (six on offense) with a block, steal and just one turnover in 26 minutes. Favors went 10-13 on his shots and 4-4 on free throws. He was also +22 on the night, second only to Dante Exum’s +24.
Joe Ingles reached a milestone last night when he made his fourth 3-pointer of the night (he was 4-6 from deep in total). It gave him 540 threes as a Jazzman, tying former Jazz forward Byron Russell for third-most all time in Utah’s franchise history. Ingles needs 150 more to pass Gordon Hayward (689) for second and 306 to surpass John Stockton (845).