SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz won without its man in the middle Saturday night against Brooklyn, but the team could be without its best player for more than a month.
Jazz center Rudy Gobert is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks with a bone bruise in his right knee. The Vertical's Shams Charania first reported the news, and the Jazz confirmed it a short time later, indicating that the Frenchman will be reevaluated in four weeks.
Gobert was ruled out of last night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets less than an hour before tipoff.
He initially suffered the right knee injury in the third quarter of Friday’s 10-point loss to the Miami Heat, after clashing with Dion Waiters, but underwent an MRI Saturday by team doctors where a right tibia contusion was revealed.
Gobert will be reevaluated in four weeks.
“It feels better than it looked on the video,” Gobert said Friday. “I think it was a dirty play, but no matter what the most important thing is to keep getting better and to win tomorrow."
Waiters responded to the Gobert’s dirty play accusation ahead of Sunday’s game against the Pistons.
“I’ve never been a dirty player in my life,” Waiters told the Sun-Sentinel. “I went for the ball. Tell him to get out of his feelings and that’s what it is, just like that.”
Waiters claims that he didn’t even know it was Gobert as he went for the ball in attempt to make a basketball play.
“I’ve never been a dirty player in my life,” Waiters said. “If he thought it was a dirty play, you come to me as a man and you ask me and I’ll tell him the same (expletive) I’m saying now. I saw it on social media, late, after the win. I’m not a dirty player.”
Gobert is the NBA’s leading shot blocker. He averages 13.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.
In Gobert’s absence, Jazz coach Quin Snyder will have to rely on Derrick Favors and Thabo Sefolosha to help pick up the slack. Against Brooklyn, Snyder used Sefolosha at power forward while sliding Favors to center and the project worked as Favors posted a season-high 24 points and 12 rebounds. Sefolosha ended with a plus-17 rating, but it’ll be tough to sustain that pace without the interior presence of Gobert.
Gobert isn’t the only Jazzman bitten by the injury bug. Veteran Joe Johnson has missed the past six games with right wrist tendon instability and Dante Exum could miss much if not all of the season as he recovers from left shoulder surgery.
“I think the biggest thing for us is are we being unselfish? The Answer is yes,” Snyder said after beating the Nets. “Are we competing? The Answer is yes. How connected are we? That’s something we are working towards.
“If you have those three things, when adversity hits, and it’s always there on some level whether that be during the course of a game or at the end of a game or two or three or four whatever the case may be, you are able to persevere through it.”