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Rudy Gobert wins battle of the bigs against All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge

By Ryan Miller, | Posted - Feb 9th, 2019 @ 8:18pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Before Saturday’s game, Quin Snyder was asked if he had voted for San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge to be an All-Star.

The Utah Jazz head coach didn’t take the bait.

“We've been through the All-Star game thing enough times to leave that one alone,” Snyder said.

Aldridge will be going to Charlotte for the All-Star Game next weekend. Meanwhile, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert will not. That was the source of some controversy, especially in Utah. But there wasn’t any question who was the better player during the Jazz’s 125-105 win over the Spurs on Saturday.

“Big Fella took that one personally,” Donovan Mitchell said.

Gobert had 21 points, 13 rebounds and was a plus-15. And he was the major factor in Aldridge struggling to a 5-of-16 night.

Aldridge isn’t a natural cover for Gobert, either. The Spurs big man feasts in the midrange, not at the rim where Gobert is at his best. But Gobert was often able to keep Aldridge away from his preferred areas on the court.

“Rudy did an excellent job of not allowing him to get where he wants to go in the post,” Snyder said, adding of Aldridge: “He’s still capable of making some of those shots. I thought we did a good job contesting — contesting the shot and not fouling.”

Aldridge made the All-Star roster mostly due to his offensive game. He's averaging 21 points a night on 51 percent shooting this season as one of the last holdouts of the midrange game. That offensive game was enough to beat out the reigning Defensive Player of the Year for an All-Star spot.

"(Defense) has always been valued less than offense and that's the way it will always be," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I think as we go forward, more might appreciate it, but the majority of people are more interested in offense. That's just human nature."

As for Gobert, he didn’t want to dwell too much on the personal matchup with Aldridge. He’s always been a player who cares more about his team’s success and that remained the same on Saturday. Aldridge is a "very good player," Gobert said.

“They are a very good team. We have to just get the win. That was the No. 1 thing tonight was to get the win," he said. "Like I always say, it’s a five-on-five game; it’s about how you impact the game. He could have had 30 and (if) we would have won by 20, I’d be happy.”

But he did admit that there was some extra motivation with the matchup — if only a little.

“A little bit, you know; he’s an All-Star and people know it,” Gobert said. “And even if he wasn’t an All-Star, he’s still a very good player. That doesn't really matter. I have to come out and try out stop the guy that is trying to put the ball in the basket. That’s what he does. I have to come out ready; we have to come ready as a team.”

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