Gobert Shines For Jazz At NBA All-Star Game
CHICAGO, Illinois – If there was any question about whether or not Rudy Gobert’s style of play was well suited for the NBA All-Star Game, the Utah Jazz center answered those doubts with a resounding yes. The Frenchman made his All-Star debut scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for Team Giannis in a 157-155 loss.
Gobert made a living dunking the ball over the Team LeBron front line, making 10-11 field goal attempts. The Jazz star was a frequent target on dump-off passes from Team Giannis’ guard-line who would attack the rim and find Gobert for an easy dunk.
It wasn’t just open attempts where Gobert made his impact felt. With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, the big cleaned up a Trae Young miss for an emphatic one-handed put-back dunk.
Moments later, Gobert grabbed a rebound and found Young a buzzer-beating half-court shot, one of the best highlights of the game.
With the NBA’s new All-Star format resetting the scoreboard at the end of each of the first three quarters, late quarter competitiveness was at an all-time high for an All-Star game. With just seconds remaining in the third quarter, and Team Giannis trailing Team LeBron 41-39, Gobert caught a lob pass from Young to tie the score with 2.2 seconds left in the quarter. The dunk was Gobert’s last basket of the game as he failed to see the floor in the final untimed fourth quarter.
Donovan Mitchell didn’t fare as well in his All-Star debut. The Jazz guard made his first three-point attempt of the game but would finish with just seven points on 3-10 shooting overall. Mitchell played just 14 minutes overall compare to Gobert’s nearly 19 minutes of floor time.
Gobert’s excellent play served as a breakout performance for the Jazz center who as at times seemed like an outsider in the NBA community. Gobert was mocked last season by several NBA players after crying when discussing a conversation he had with his mother after missing the All-Star game.
Mitchell had a simple answer for those who doubt Gobert’s ability to have an impact on the All-Star game.
“I think they should shut up,” Mitchell said, “He’s perfectly fine going out there to block shots, do his thing. He can fit in in any game, People love to talk about ‘oh maybe he’s not this’ but they’ve been doing that since I got here. One day they’ll learn. Maybe never, I always tell him if you have people saying what you can’t do, you must be doing something right.‘”
Despite Gobert’s breakout performance, he said he didn’t feel any pressure to perform at the All-Star game.
“I just came here to enjoy myself,” Gobert said, “Try to show the people that look out for me and my family, people from France and people from Utah, just make them proud.”
Mitchell said his nerves hit him before the game when he found himself sitting among some of the best players who have ever played the game.
“You grew up watching LeBron [James], [Chris Paul], [Russell] Westbrook,” Mitchell said, “Now to be on the same team as Giannis, thats when it kind of hits you that wow this is your first one, you’re here, you’re among some of the best guys in the league, and you’re one of them.”
The fourth quarter was unusually competitive for an All-Star game with the new game format. Going into the final period, the Target Final Score was set at 157, with Team Giannis leading Team LeBron 133-124. Team LeBron outscored the opposition 33-22 over the final untimed period to get the win. Neither Mitchell nor Gobert appeared in the final quarter.
While Gobert and Mitchell were the only players on the floor for the Jazz, and entourage of members from the Jazz organization showed up to support the duo.
Spotlight averse Jazz guard Joe Ingles tweeted that he would be making a surprise visit the Windy City to see his teammates in action. Jazz coaches Quin Snyder and Alex Jensen both appeared in the arena to support their players.
Overall, it was a successful outing for the Jazz, led by Gobert’s breakout performance. The team can now turn it’s attention to the final 28 games of the regular season. The Jazz currently sit in the fourth seed in the West .5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers, and 1.5 games behind the Denver Nuggets.
The Jazz return to action Friday night in Salt Lake City against the San Antonio Spurs.
Ben Anderson of KSL Sports summarized the NBA All-Star Weekend, and the importance of Gobert’s breakout performance in the latest episode of the Jazz Notes podcast. You can listen to it below.
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