SAN ANTONIO, TX – OCTOBER 04: Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs jokes with Mike Conley #11 of the Utah jazz in preseason game at AT&T Center on October 2, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images
After receiving unfair criticism the past few weeks, the Jazz will look to continue to silence doubters when they go for their ninth straight win when they face San Antonio on Friday night
For some unknown reason, players around the league continue to take shots at the Utah Jazz.
If players aren’t criticizing Rudy Gobert and his effectiveness on defense, they’re going after the rest of the team and their lack of skillset on the same end of the court.
Two weeks ago, Gobert was criticized by Pat Beverley and Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves — both of whom took unprompted cheap shots at the reigning defensive player of the year.
Beverley was critical of Gobert never defending the best player on the opposing team, believing that the Jazz hid him on the court because he was guarding Jared Vanderbilt instead of Minnesota’s all-star big man Karl-Anthony Towns.
“If I’m defensive player of the year, I’m guarding the best player no matter what. I’m not roaming,” Beverley said after the game. “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. I’m guarding Mike Conley, I’m guarding Donovan Mitchell, I’m guarding Bogdanovic. You got Rudy Gobert out there guarding Vanderbilt. And every time I hear he’s defensive player of the year. So, whatever.”
Edwards was next, taking the microphone postgame and saying something so bewildering that when told, Jazz players reacted with a laugh at the absurdity of it.
“Anytime I go against (Kristaps) Porzingis, I don’t get no layups. I don’t get why we couldn’t finish on Rudy Gobert. He don’t put no fear in my heart. … I don’t know why,” Edwards said.
Ironically, it didn’t matter to either of them that Gobert finished with a +25 rating in 31 minutes, stopping Edwards all three times the second-year guard drove to the hoop with Gobert waiting for him.
“They obviously don’t watch enough basketball,” Joe Ingles quipped about those who question Gobert’s play. “If you understand what you’re looking for, it’s clear the impact he makes.”
“He did it in the preseason, he did it in training camp, and now I think that’s the level we’re going to see out of him.”
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 16, 2021
The situation was flipped Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers when Marcus Morris Sr., one of the league’s toughest defenders, heaped nothing but praise on Gobert and how singularly talented the big man was.
But he didn’t stop talking there, continuing in a way that discredited head coach Quin Snyder and the rest of the Jazz players not named Gobert.
“Yeah, they’re still the same team. Ain’t nothing changed,” Morris Sr. said. “(Gobert) protects all of them. None of them really can defend. Just funnel it to him and it’s tough to — he’s a great player and he does a great job of anticipation, staying down, being real solid. So you know who they are.”
When asked about these comments postgame, Utah star Donovan Mitchell elected not to respond to the cheap shot. But just because he didn’t respond doesn’t mean he doesn’t hear the words.
While everyone in the league is entitled to their own opinion, it doesn’t mean they’re always right.
Gobert backs up his defensive prowess with the three defensive player of the year trophies sitting in his case — and very likely on his way to adding a fourth this season. For those who question Snyder’s defensive understanding and the team, the Jazz point to their No. 5 defensive rating — one of two teams in the league ranked in the top-5 of both offensive and defensive ratings.
“If you’re the best in the world at something, people become insecure and try to discredit you,” Gobert said.
Spurs in town
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 17, 2021
Utah (20-7, 10-4 home / No. 3 Western Conference)
*115.6 Points Per Game (No. 1 in NBA)
*117.7 Offensive Rating (No. 1 in NBA)
*104.1 Points Per Game (No. 4 in NBA)
*106.1 Defensive Rating (No. 5 in NBA)
*Donovan Mitchell: 24.8 points / 5.0 assists / 3.7 rebounds / 1.7 steals
*Rudy Gobert: 15.3 points / 14.7 rebounds / 2.1 blocks / 73.8% shooting
*Bojan Bogdanovic: 17.0 points / 3.8 rebounds / 42.2% 3P-territory
*Mike Conley: 13.6 points / 5.4 assists / 45.7% 3P-territory
San Antonio Spurs (10-17, 4-8 away / No. 12 Western Conference)
*108.8 Points Per Game (No. 11 in NBA)
*108.7 Offensive Rating (No. 19 in NBA)
*109.5 Points Per Game (No. 22 in NBA)
*109.1 Defensive Rating (No. 16 in NBA)
*Dejounte Murray: 17.7 points / 8.4 assists / 8.3 rebounds / 1.9 steals
*Keldon Johnson: 14.7 points / 6.1 rebounds / 44.3% 3P-territory
*Jakob Poetl: 12.3 points / 8.8 rebounds / 1.6 blocks
MATCHUP TO WATCH
*Mike Conley vs. Dejounte Murray
— A complete contrast in styles of play, the matchup between Conley and Murray are sure to be validation for both players. On one end, the veteran Conley is Utah’s catalyst and looking to prove that he’s still capable of playing with the talented young guards in the league. For Murray, going up a seasoned veteran like Conley will be a justification if he’s on the right track to stardom in the league
CAREER MILESTONES TO WATCH
*Joe Ingles — 4,980 points
*Bojan Bogdanovic — 1,989 rebounds
*Rudy Gobert — 6,977 points
*Mike Conley — 1,296 three-pointers
Time: 7 p.m. MST
Location: Vivint Arena / Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 1280 The Zone
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 17, 2021