Jazz Start Hot From Downtown Against Timberwolves
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz opened their home game against Rudy Gobert and the Minnesota Timberwolves on fire from three-point range.
The Jazz hosted the Wolves at Vivint Arena on Friday, December 9.
During the opening quarter of action, the Jazz connected on five shots on 14 attempts from distance for 35.7 percent.
Five of Utah’s first six field goals came from beyond the arc.
🏀 🗑 pic.twitter.com/RsLm6OAIv3
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 10, 2022
At the end of the first quarter, The Wolves owned a 28-24 lead.
Utah shot 40.9 percent overall. Malik Beasley led the Jazz with eight points on 3-4 field goals, including 2-3 from deep. Nickeil Alexander-Walker added a pair of three-pointers. Kelly Olynyk also connected from downtown.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) December 10, 2022
Rudy Gobert Returns to Utah
Gobert said he’s hoping for a warm welcome from Jazz fans when he makes his return to Utah on Friday night.
The Minnesota Timberwolves open a five-game road trip in Utah where Gobert called home for the first nine seasons of his career.
Now back in Utah, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year shared his thoughts on his return to face the Jazz, and what he’s seen from rookie Walker Kessler.
Timberwolves vs. Jazz
Gobert said he was unsure of what reception he would get from fans upon making his first appearance in Utah in a rival uniform, but was hopeful he would be welcomed.
“I guess we’ll see, but from what I’ve seen on social media, hopefully, some good things,” Gobert said. “I don’t know how much they’re going to cheer for me, but regardless […] it should be a cool thing.”
— Sam Farnsworth (@Samsworth_KSL) December 10, 2022
Jazz fans showed their appreciation to Gobert by sending their well-wishes to the center after he was traded to the Timberwolves.
Local company Vandy Creations took those messages and incorporated them into a large sign in the shape of Utah that was given to Gobert on Thursday night ahead of his matchup with the Jazz.
Gobert had the sign featuring inscriptions from Jazz fans taken to his residence in Utah that he has held onto even after the trade.
“It just warms my heart to see that the fans still took the time to do that for me, and it’s something that I’d be able to keep forever,” Gobert said. “I didn’t get to read all the messages yet but I’ve read a few and it means a lot.”
Rudy Gobert said he was hopeful he'd get a warm welcome from @utahjazz fans tonight at Vivint Arena.
And, he raved about rookie Walker Kessler early in his NBA career.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) December 9, 2022
Gobert Praises Walker Kessler
After the trade that sent Gobert to Minnesota, Jazz fans quickly warmed to rookie Walker Kessler who made a name for himself as college basketball’s best shot blocker.
Kessler admitted after landing in Utah that watching Gobert helped him develop as a rim protector.
“Growing up, Rudy Gobert is one of the greatest shot blockers to ever play the game,” the fresh-faced 21-year-old said.
Gobert in return shared his thoughts on his heir-apparent with the Jazz.
This morning after the #Timberwolves shootaround Rudy Gobert was asked which former teammates he was most excited to see tonight in the game? His answer was an instant classic! 😂😂😂#TakeNote l @KSLSports pic.twitter.com/aBAbdjwYAz
— Sam Farnsworth (@Samsworth_KSL) December 9, 2022
“I love him, I’ve heard great things about him,” Gobert told Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “It seems like he’s a great kid, and he’s a student of the game. Someone told me that before he came into the league, he watched a lot of film of me, so that’s kind of funny in a way. I’m really happy to see him play the way he’s playing. I wish him the best. I think he has a great future ahead of him.”
Kessler has played particularly well in his last three games.
Since the beginning of the month, Kessler is averaging 12.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks in 22 minutes per game while shooting 94 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the free throw line.
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