Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert To Return For Game 4

After being upgraded to questionable earlier in the day, it now appears as though Rudy Gobert is healthy enough to return to action tonight, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets.

Gobert had been sidelined since banging his knee on the first play of Game 1. Shortly after the injury was sustained, the big man underwent X-rays and an MRI which both revealed that there was no structural damage.

With Gobert in the lineup, the Jazz will get the opportunity to exact revenge on a Clippers team that has hopped out to a 2-1 lead over their shorthanded opponents. In Game 3, of course, Clips forward Blake Griffin went down with a toe injury that will cost him the remainder of the postseason.

In 81 games for the Jazz this season, Gobert emerged as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate with an improved offensive game. His 14.0 points and 12.8 rebounds per game, coupled with the sheer length that he possesses around the rim, will serve the visiting Utah squad well.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Gobert, Garnett

After playing sparingly in Game 3, Jusuf Nurkic and the Trail Blazers have decided to shelve the big man once again. Per Mike Richman of the Oregonian, the Bosnian Beast will not play at all in Game 4.

He didn’t do any further damage,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said of Nurkic playing through a fractured leg. “There was soreness, tenderness and it just wouldn’t be wise to have him play through that.

Limited to shifts of 3-5 minutes, Nurkic didn’t catch much of a rhythm on offense. Though he pulled down 11 rebounds, he only scored two points in his 17 minutes on the court.

There’s more from the Northwest:

  • When the Jazz tip off for Game 4 of their first-round series later tonight there’s a 50% chance that they’ll see Rudy Gobert return to action, Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. The big man was formally updated to questionable earlier today.
  • The Jazz failed to capitalize when Clippers forward Blake Griffin left Game 3 injured but the fact that fans can ruminate on the team’s inability to slow Chris Paul simply means that they’re playing meaningful games again, Brad Rock of the Deseret News writes, and that’s something that they can be excited for.
  • For the second time in a week, former Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett spoke about his relationship with franchise owner Glen Taylor. A report on ESPN details the conversation KG had with the Associated Press, including how he felt Flip Saunders‘ passing was handled.

Northwest Notes: Gibson, Roberson, Favors

Taj Gibson helped the Thunder with both his offense and defense since arriving in Oklahoma City and he’s already earned the respect of his teammates, Cliff Brunt of USA Today writes.

“They see I’m in here late nights, early mornings, just constantly working with my teammates, constantly putting work in,” Gibson said. “The confidence is going to be there because they understand you do the work, but I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help my team.”

Gibson will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He’s making $8.95MM this season in the last year of a four year deal.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Andre Roberson has done a great job on the defensive end in the Thunder’s first three playoff games, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman details. Roberson will be a restricted free agent this summer.
  • Derrick Favors, who has one season and $12MM left on his contract after this season, is seeing extended playing time for the Jazz while Rudy Gobert recovers from a knee injury. Favors didn’t play particularly well on the defensive end, but coach Quin Synder understands that the struggles are a result of playing too many minutes, as Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News relays. “You don’t have to look any further than the guy played 38 minutes and he hasn’t played that many minutes all year,” Snyder said. “He’s battling. He’s competing, playing hard, and we’re asking a lot of him right now. We’re going to keep doing that, and he’s going to give us everything he has.”
  • Improving on the defensive end will be a top priority for the Nuggets and the team may look to the free agent market this summer to find upgrades, Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post speculates in his latest mailbag. The scribe names Gibson, Blake Griffin, and Serge Ibaka among the players who could help the team improve on that end of the floor.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Oladipo, Gobert, Burks

ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy believes the Thunder should seriously consider playing Russell Westbrook the entire game during the postseason, as he told Mel Bracht of The Oklahoman. The Thunder outscored the Rockets in Game 2 by 11 points in the 41 minutes that Westbrook played. Westbrook’s 51-point, 10-rebound, 13-assist effort was wasted in a 115-111 loss that gave Houston a 2-0 series lead. Oklahoma City is better off with Westbrook staying on the court even if he wears down as the game goes on, Van Gundy told Bracht. “I think he gives them a better chance even if he is diminished somewhat due to fatigue by playing the whole game,” Van Gundy said. “Maybe it will be different at home, but the dropoff is huge.”

In other playoff developments around the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan doesn’t want Victor Oladipo‘s shooting woes to affect his overall game, the Associated Press reports. The shooting guard is averaging 8.5 PPG and shooting 19% from the field through the first two playoff games. Donovan wants Oladipo to realize his defense and rebounding are also important. “Victor’s not a one-dimensional player — he can do a lot of different things,” Donovan said. “Taking his mindset off the ball going in the basket, and him realizing, ‘I’m not going to allow myself to be defined by that because there’s too many other things I can do out there to help this team.'”
  • Forward Doug McDermott was a bright spot for the Thunder in Game 2, as he scored 11 points in 14 minutes. “I knew I could have an impact on this series,” McDermott told Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. “I know my shot’s always gonna be there, and they have to respect that.”
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert will remain sidelined for Game 3 of the series against the Clippers, according to another AP story. He hyperextended his left knee and suffered a bone contusion in the opening minute of the series. The Jazz were outscored 60-38 in the paint in Game 2 while going with a smaller lineup most of the way.
  • The Jazz will also be without shooting guard Alec Burks for Game 3, the team’s PR department tweets. Burks received a platelet-rich plasma injection into his left knee on Thursday. Burks, who averaged 6.7 PPG in 15.5 MPG over 42 games during the regular season, has not appeared in the series.

Rudy Gobert To Miss Game 2 With Knee Injury

APRIL 17, 1:14pm: Gobert will be ruled out for Game 2 against the Clippers, and his status going forward will be determined on a game-by-game basis, reports Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.

APRIL 16, 8:42am: Jazz center Rudy Gobert could miss the rest of the series after hurting his knee on the first play of Saturday’s game with the Clippers. A statement issued by the team calls the injury “a left knee hyperextension and bone contusion.”

Gobert was removed from the game with 11:43 left in the first quarter after banging knees with L.A.’s Luc Mbah a Moute. He underwent X-rays, which were negative, and an MRI that revealed no ligament damage.

Utah’s medical staff said Gobert will continue to be re-evaluated to determine when he might be able to play again. He has not yet been officially ruled out for Game 2, though it would be surprising to see him get back on the court so quickly.

Although the Jazz pulled out Saturday’s game on a last-second shot by Joe Johnson, they figure to have an uphill battle without Gobert. A candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, he averaged 14 points, 12.8 rebounds and a league-leading 2.6 blocks in 81 games.

Rudy Gobert Talks DPOY, Utah, Hayward

With the 2016/17 regular season nearing its conclusion, Jazz center Rudy Gobert is receiving serious consideration for this year’s Defensive Player of the Year award, despite the fact that Utah often flies under the radar in discussions about the NBA’s contenders and stars. Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype spoke to several players around the league, including Myles Turner, Elfrid Payton, and Willie Reed, who said Gobert deserves the award, with Reed calling him a “game-changer.”

Gobert himself also spoke to Kennedy about what it would mean to be named Defensive Player of the Year, as well as several other subjects, including the idea that he’s overlooked a little in Utah and the possibility of an All-Star teammate re-signing with the Jazz this summer. The whole piece is worth checking out, but here are a few of the notable quotes from Gobert:

On the possibility of winning Defensive Player of the Year:

“It would be great. Obviously, I play to win games, but you make history with those kind of things. It would be great to make history. I’d be the second French player to win it after Joakim Noah. It would be great for me, great for my country. It would just be great.”

On the Jazz, a top-five seed in the West, flying under the radar:

“We talk about it sometimes [as a team]. I’ve been here for four years now and Gordon [Hayward] has been here for seven years, so we understand it. We understand that it’s about the market, so we have to do more than other teams to get that respect. We also understand that we have to win games. At the end of the day, if we win games, we’re going to get the recognition that we deserve. That’s why we just focus on winning and getting better.”

On how he’ll try to convince Hayward to stick with the Jazz in free agency:

“I’m just going to ask him, ‘Do you want to win a championship?’ I feel like with the way we’ve improved the last few years, since Quin [Snyder] got here, I don’t think it’d be a great decision to leave now. At the same time, I know sometimes there are personal decisions and I can’t really control any of that. But I know he likes to win. I know he likes it here in Utah, and his wife and kids like it here too. If he doesn’t want to live here anymore or there’s another city he wants to live in or he feels like he has a better chance to win a championship somewhere else, it’s his decision. But I’m going to remind him that I really want to win a championship and I think we can do it.”

On whether Gobert can picture himself spending his entire career in Utah:

“Yeah, why not? I obviously love living [in Utah] and I want to win, like I said. So if the goal is to win a championship very soon, there’s no reason to leave. I love my coach, I love the fans, I love the organization. There’s no reason for me to think about leaving.”

Community Shootaround: Wall Criticizes Refs

John Wall made waves after Friday’s loss to the Jazz, going on a four-minute rant about (what he perceived to be) poor officiating. Wall received a technical foul for making contact with Rudy Gobert on a screen; a video of the play can be seen here. The play was deemed a “hostile act,” setting Wall and his teammates off after the game.

“The way they’ve been officiating today doesn’t make no sense,” Wall told reporters, including Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. “It’s getting out of hand. If you want us to compete at a high level like we’ve been doing – we didn’t lose this game. The refs made us lose this game. We fought hard, we gave ourselves a chance but you don’t shoot no 31 free throws to 16 the way we attack the basket as a team. I tried to get some (technical fouls) rescinded before, it never works for my favor. Other players have and they got it. So, all I can do is just keep my mouth shut like I’ve been doing. I could see if I would’ve got a flagrant-1 but a technical off of that? That’s outrageous.”

Likely adding fuel to Wall’s flagrant-1 argument was Draymond Green‘s wrist punch to James Harden; an act Green admitted to performing in retaliation, and only received an offensive foul for. As Wall alluded to, the chances of his technical foul being overturned are slim-to-none.

“They said it was a ‘hostile act,’” Scott Brooks said after the game. “I’ve been around a lot of fights back when I played. Come on. ‘Hostile act?’ Really? It’s ridiculous.”

What do you think: was Wall’s strike to Gobert a “hostile act”? Should the decisions of referees be held to a higher standard, and if so: how? If Wall receives a penalty from the league, should Draymond as well?

Let us know what you think in the comments section!

Northwest Notes: Rubio, Casspi, Nuggets, Jazz

Ricky Rubio has been the subject of frequent trade speculation in the past couple years, but if he continues to play like he has lately, Rubio should have a future with the Timberwolves, writes Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune. As Hartman details, Rubio has been averaging a double-double (15.8 PPG, 10.6 APG) and shooting well (39.5% on threes) since the trade deadline, and is on a reasonable contract (two years and $29MM+ after this season). Minnesota drafted Kris Dunn last June to be the point guard of the future, but it appears Rubio isn’t ready to give up his hold on that title quite yet.

Here’s more from around the Northwest division;

  • The Timberwolves signed Omri Casspi in the wake of Nemanja Bjelica‘s season-ending injury, hoping that Casspi could do some of the things that Bjelica did on the court. However, as Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune details, Casspi is still adapting to his new team. The Wolves have just nine games left, so the veteran forward may return to the free agent market before getting fully comfortable in Minnesota.
  • The Nuggets struck gold with center Nikola Jokic, but still don’t have a playmaker who can make a big shot in the clutch, according to Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post, who makes a case for why the team should move Wilson Chandler and pursue Gordon Hayward in free agency.
  • Following a weekend loss to the Clippers, Jazz center Rudy Gobert unloaded some frustrations in his post-game comments, suggesting that “some of us don’t compete” and “just thinking about scoring” (link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com). Gobert later backed off those comments, apologizing to his teammates and vowing to be a better leader, per Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. Utah has since won back-to-back games.

Jazz Testing Market For Favors; Suns Interested

FEBRUARY 21, 9:03am: The Suns have expressed interest in discussing a Favors deal with the Jazz, per Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah isn’t considered overly likely to part with the power forward, however, as Jones writes.

FEBRUARY 20, 9:10pm: The Jazz have tested the market for Derrick Favors over the past several weeks, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com writes. However, it’s unclear how serious Utah is about moving the former No. 3 overall pick.

Lowe adds that the franchise is “all-in” to keep Gordon Hayward and it doesn’t want to weaken the team this season since it’s in good position to make the playoffs. The scribe adds that the team could be testing the market for Favors now to set up a trade around the draft.

The Jazz currently have roughly $13MM in cap room, but they have several players in line for raises next season. Rudy Gobert‘s massive extension becomes effective this summer and George Hill will join Hayward as a free agent. If the team can re-sign both Hill and Hayward, it may need to shed salary elsewhere.

Favors doesn’t play many minutes alongside Gobert, a player who is clearly in the team’s long-term plans. The 25-year-old power forward is having a middling season by his standards, averaging just 9.2 points per game while sporting a 15.3 player efficiency rating.

Blazers Duo, Embiid Fail To Make All-Star Cut

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, the Blazers backcourt duo Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum and Jazz center Rudy Gobert were among the prominent players who failed to make the cut on the Western Conference All-Star reserve unit, which was unveiled on Thursday and relayed on the NBA’s Twitter feed. Joel Embiid, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony were some of the notable names who didn’t make the cut on the Eastern Conference squad. (Twitter links).

Russell Westbrook,  Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan and Gordon Hayward received the most votes by the conference’s coaches, who pick the reserves. Westbrook, of course, was the biggest snub among the All-Star starters as the fan voting, which counted for 50% toward the overall balloting, put him behind Stephen Curry and James Harden.

Paul George, Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap, Isaiah Thomas, Kemba Walker and John Wall were named the Eastern Conference’s All-Star reserves.

Did the coaches get it right or was there an obvious mistake on their part? Go to the comments section and weigh in.

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