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MINNEAPOLIS — In the second quarter of Utah's 136-104 win over Minnesota, Patrick Beverley picked up a technical for taunting — or, more accurately, for some aggressive talking.
Beverley had just made a floater over Rudy Gobert, and he wanted to make sure the three-time Defensive Player of the Year knew about it. Beverley hopped up and down and then back trotted while yelling "I fooled your (expletive)! I fooled your (expletive) all day!" in the face of Gobert.
Since Beverley had been yapping most of the game to that point, that was enough to earn him a technical. After that, he stayed relatively quiet for the remainder of the game (the ever-growing Jazz lead probably helped, too).
After the game, however, it was a different story. Maybe it was all the pent-up non-spoken trash talk, but Beverley let some interesting takes fly.
When asked about Utah's defensive strategy of using a smaller forward on Karl-Anthony Towns, which allowed Gobert to roam the floor a bit, Beverley didn't mince words.
"I mean, I don't know, it's a great game plan by the coach and his coaching staff, but if I'm Defensive Player of the Year, I'm always guarding the best player no matter what," Beverley said. "I'm not roaming.
"It's no discredit to Royce O'Neale or any of the others on their team, but if I'm Defensive Player of the Year, I'm not guarding Royce O'Neale," he continued. "I'm guarding Mike Conley, I'm guarding Donovan Mitchell, I'm guarding (Bojan) Bogdanovic. You got Rudy Gobert out there guarding (Jarred) Vanderbilt. And every time I hear he's Defensive Player of the Year. So, uh, whatever."
There's a lot to unpack there.
O'Neale got an unnecessary stray shot there, and Vanderbilt probably doesn't like the fact that his own teammate more or less called him a bum. Apart from that, the premise itself is just silly. Would Gobert win a one-on-one tournament? Probably not, but the NBA isn't some schoolyard challenge; it's a five-on-five league, and there's no better team defender than Gobert.
Why would Gobert go mano a mano on every possession if it hurt the team?
The Wolves had a 104.5 offensive rating (that'd rank 26th in the league) with Gobert on the court Wednesday. The defense worked — and it worked because of Gobert. He didn't win three Defensive Player of the Year awards by accident.
"When you dig into a lot of these elite rim protectors, I think Rudy's in a class almost all by himself," Minnesota coach Chris Finch said.
Finch obviously didn't stress that to his own team, especially considering Beverley wasn't the only Minnesota player to discredit Gobert's impact following the Timberwolves' 32-point loss.
Second-year rising star Anthony Edwards joined in on the Gobert slander. Edwards, who has already built a reputation as one of the league's best high-flying dunkers, said he was much more afraid to challenge Dallas center Kristaps Porzingis at the rim than Gobert.
"Anytime I go against Porzingis, I don't get no layups," Edwards said. "I don't get why we couldn't finish on Rudy Gobert. He don't put no fear in my heart."
Are you done laughing yet?
How about now?
OK, let's continue.
Like, sure, Gobert isn't the end all be all of NBA defenders, but Porzingis? Come on, Ant, teams literally target Porzingis in pick-and-roll situations because he struggles to defend at the rim.
Oh, and for those counting, Edwards was 0 for 2 at the rim against Gobert on Wednesday. Edwards claims he doesn't know why that is; for many others, the answer is quite obvious. For the Jazz and Gobert, the rhetoric is nothing new; he's not a glamorous player, and his dominance is often subtle.
"I think he gets overlooked a lot just because if you're not playing with him, you really don't understand how much he kind of cleans up and how much he really does for your defense," Trent Forrest said.
It's hard to see — apparently even in a 32-point loss.