SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz looked a bit more like the team that stormed the league in the first half of the season in their 117-109 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. What were the talking points after the win? Let's go to the comments.
'Rudy was the MVP in this game with dominating defense/blocked shots and making his foul shots down the stretch.' — Bradley6464
With 10 minutes remaining, Rudy Gobert set the tone for what was to come.
Boston's Jaylen Brown crossed over to his left and drove inside on Gobert, thinking he could beat the Jazz center to the rim. Brown thought wrong. There are blocks, and then there are blocks; Gobert swatted the ball straight out of Brown's hands, which led to a fast break that ended in an alley-oop finish by Gobert.
"He knows when it's his time, on the defensive end especially," Donovan Mitchell said. "In the beginning of the game, he was kind of indecisive — we all were. And then with him, you saw late he blocked that shot, sprinted the floor, and got a dunk. That's the epitome of what we want him to do."
In the fourth quarter, Gobert had 11 points, six rebounds, two blocks and was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free-throw line, including four made freebies in the final minute to help seal the win for Utah. Speaking of free throws, Gobert is shooting 71% from the stripe over the last 15 games, which is not bad for the big man.
Those numbers are great by themselves, but they still pale in comparison to Gobert's on/off stats for the fourth quarter. The Jazz outscored the Celtics by 16 points in the nine-plus minutes Gobert was on the court in the final frame. His mid-fourth quarter breather, once again, highlighted just how much Utah needs him.
I didn't get crossed or dunked on so you know you won't see me on there 😂😂 https://t.co/62ImoO8ROG— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) March 17, 2021
Gobert subbed out with 7:37 left in the quarter after helping the Jazz increase a 2-point lead to a 95-86 advantage. He returned less than three minutes later after Boston went on a 9-3 run. With 30 seconds left in regulation, the Jazz lead had grown to 10. Mr. Gobert, everyone.
"One of the things, when we talk about Rudy, is his activity, his ability to do multiple things on defense and to make multiple-effort plays‚" Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said of his center's impact. "And when we're solid — the other four guys who are on the court — he has a chance to be even more impactful."
'Sort of ragged at times with too many turnovers ball handling. Main thing is they worked it out and worked thru their mistakes. Again glad we have Clarkson.' — MisterD
The Jazz had six turnovers in less than six minutes, and they were all a bit different: bad passes, a lost ball, a travel, a shot clock violation, an offensive foul. Name a type of turnover and the Jazz likely committed it.
So when Snyder was asked what changed to cut the turnovers down, he pointed to math. It simply was not possible to keep up that pace for an entire game.
"It had to get cut down because we were on pace to have about 50," Snyder said.
After the more-than-sloppy start, the Jazz finished with 15 turnovers, with just four in the second half.
Jordan Clarkson's flame-throwing second quarter was one of the reasons the Jazz survived such heinous opening minutes. He was 4-for-4 from 3-point range and scored 14 points, alone, in the second quarter.
It was a return to form in some sorts for Clarkson, who has quietly struggled over the last couple weeks, and it came following an honest conversation with his head coach.
After the loss to the Golden State Warriors Sunday, Clarkson and Snyder had a talk about playing smarter. Clarkson has become the runaway favorite for Sixth Man of the Year award by not just shooting a lot, but picking where and when he would shoot. He took smart shots and made smart decisions. His recent slump has been partially fueled by reverting back to old and not-as-wise habits: He took a shot when a pass would have been better and searched a bit too much on the dribble instead of moving the ball.
There was less of that against Boston.
"We had a conversation about it. It was just about just making plays, what it does for the team and all that," Clarkson said. "I just took it to heart. It was me and Don, he (Snyder) showed us film and stuff. We talked about it. Just another growth part of my game that I'm trying to keep improving on."
'Bogey seems to be in a major slump right now. He's passing up open threes and isn't making many.' — Stephen P
Bojan Bogdanovic had three turnovers in the first few minutes and had zero points at halftime — that's bad, just like some other bad halves and games this season. Bogdanovic isn't necessarily in a slump, but more in the midst of what is turning out to be an inconsistent season.
In one game he'll go 4-of-5 from 3-point range and the next he'll go 0-for-4. He'll have a couple of games where he shoots over 50% from deep, followed by a run of games where he's hitting 22% of 3s — just like his percentage in the last three games.
"He's a guy that's been finding his rhythm as the season goes on," Snyder said.
Putting him on the block helped him find it on Tuesday. The Jazz started the second half by having Bogdanovic post up, and that seemed to get him going a bit.
He hit a fadeaway jumper on Utah's first possession of the half and then found Royce O'Neale for a 3-pointer in the second. On Bogdanovic's four post-ups in the third quarter, he was 2-of-3 for 5 points and had the assist to O'Neale. So the Jazz scored 1.75 points per Bogdanovic post up, which is not a bad way to get someone going.
"I thought he made — in addition to scoring the ball and getting fouled — he made a couple great passes out of the post, as well," Snyder said. "So we need Bojan to be effective, and he was great tonight. And I just want him to play — don't think, just play and be aggressive. That's what he did."