By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
The Utah Jazz dug their way out of a 14-point hole to beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. Rudy Gobert denying Marcus Morris Sr. at the buzzer sealed an amazing team defensive effort and the 1-0 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals best-of-seven series.
“Obviously, they needed a three to tie,” noted the French big walking through the last play of Game 1, “I kind of faked help and knew they were going to Morris. So, I just tried to contest as best as I can.”
Gobert, 28, was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019. He has also been included in every All-Defensive First Team since 2017. This trademark contribution paints a very clear picture of his defensive abilities once again.
“I try to stay focused at the moment,” he furthered, “My teammates trust me to make plays both in defense and offense at the end of the game. I enjoy and embrace those moments. In a close game, you have the opportunity to make an impact. You can’t worry about how many points you have scored. That’s what the best teams do, they find ways to win even in these games.”
The guests coming off a demanding Game 7 versus the Dallas Mavericks a couple of days ago, lost control of the contest. Head coach Tyronn Lue went with smaller lineups in an attempt to keep his team fresh but ultimately fell short of stealing Game 1.
“It’s different from guarding a traditional big,” admitted Gobert, “The numbers back it up. I am comfortable guarding any lineup. We knew they were going to go small. We were prepared for them starting either Nicolas Batum or Ivica Zubac. They will try to make us uncomfortable. We have to be ready to guard any lineup and play to our strengths.”
Gobert additionally credited the Game 1 rally to the loud support of the fans.
“We really felt it through the whole game, not only in the end,” said the leading star of Game 1, “When we tried to come back, that crowd behind us really gave us a big lift.”
“He’s just amazing,” pointed out Croatian Bojan Bogdanovic commenting on Donovan Mitchell pouring 33 out of his 45 points after the break, “He gave all that energy to the crowd, all that energy to us players.”
Gobert finished with ten points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks. His European teammate had 18 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Game 2 is planned to be held on Thursday.
Photo Credit: Getty Images