Gobert Unsung MVP Of Utah’s Victory Over Hawks

Dec 19, 2019, 9:59 PM
Rudy Gobert - Utah Jazz - Atlanta Hawks...
Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks passes around Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz during the second half of an NBA game at State Farm Arena on December 19, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, Ga. – It seemed like the Utah Jazz were looking for someone to lead them to victory all night long.  They needed someone to make a defining play.

The Jazz needed Rudy Gobert.

Oh, and Donovan Mitchell helped out, too.

Okay, so Mitchell scored 15 of his 30 points in the 4th quarter on some fantastic dribble drives, spin moves, and baseline baskets that gave Utah the boost they needed to finally defeat the Atlanta Hawks 111-106. His two free throws provided the Jazz with a 5-point advantage as the game was coming to a close.

That’s when Gobert prevented the pesky Hawks from getting any closer. Atlanta’s rookie forward De’Andre Hunter easily beat Bojan Bogdanovic with a hard right dribble and looked for an easy lay-up.  It didn’t happen. Gobert gobbled up the ball for his 3rd blocked shot of the night with 8.5 seconds left in the game.

In reality, the block was emblematic of the Jazz’s defense in the 4th quarter.

“To be a good team we have to be consistent,” said head coach Quin Snyder. “I thought our defense was consistent in the second half.”

Gobert even admitted that once they got stops, they were able to win the game.

Down the stretch, the Jazz’s defensive pressure started with Donovan. He stole the ball from Cam Reddish and rifled a pass to Bojan Bogdanovic at half-court with 3:26 to go in the 4th quarter. Bogey then threw an alley-oop pass to Royce O’Neale.

O’Neale then blocked Jabari Parker’s shot and prevented an easy fast-break basket by stealing it from Cam Reddish before stepping out of bounds. Gobert was a haunting presence when Young attempted a floater just a few moments later.

“We had some really good individual efforts (on defense),” said Snyder who also admitted the team defense is getting better due to improved communication.

Not everything that Gobert did was gold. He fouled Kevin Huerter on a pump fake on the perimeter and missed free throws at the end of the game that gifted free Chick-fil-A sandwiches to the Hawks crowd.  Gobert also missed some easy shots near the rim. He didn’t give up and provided the team with enough good plays for his team to march to victory.

What Gobert provided on the offensive side of the ball was also invaluable. His most memorable play was out hustling Alex Len on O’Neale’s missed 3-pointer which he jammed home to give Utah a 6-point lead with under a minute to go in the game. The French big man ended the night with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

What was just as important was Utah’s previous basket before the dunk. The NBA doesn’t have statistics for decoy assists, but Gobert’s mere presence in a pick-and-roll with Joe Ingles provided Ingles the opportunity to easily scoop it up and in for a bucket that made it 107-101 with 1:59 left in the contest.  Maybe the stat should just be called the Gobert assist. He would easily lead the Jazz in this category.

“Rudy made some plays at the end,” said Snyder. “In spite of the foul line and not finishing as much as he’s capable of, he did it when it counted on both ends.”

Mitchell gave a shout-out to “the big boy” for his blocked shots. Mitchell, just like the rest of the team, recognizes that they would be nothing without The Stifle Tower.

Let’s make them co-MVPs for this game. That seems fair.

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