HOUSTON — By the time Rudy Gobert finally got a shot, the Jazz didn’t have one.
At that point, Sunday’s playoff game between the Jazz and Houston had already been decided.
The Jazz center, who had been averaging 12 points in the postseason, didn’t even take a shot until 8:32 remained in the game. As important as his scoring is the fact he has been shooting 67 percent for the postseason.
The Jazz trailed by as many as 27 in the first half, and his bucket, a put-back dunk, pulled the deficit to 12, but that was as close as the Jazz would get.
Gobert earns his money on the defensive end of the court. Still, between rebound buckets and dunks, his points are vital against a high-scoring machine such as the Houston Rockets. But he didn’t get so much as a whiff of the rim until late in the Jazz’s 110-96 loss.
The big culprit was point guard Ricky Rubio, who didn’t show up. Literally. The Jazz starter was out with a pulled hamstring. The Jazz badly missed his creativity and, yes, his shooting acumen. In his 11th year in the NBA, Rubio has rediscovered his shooting touch with the Jazz, and used it effectively.
Whether it was Houston’s defensive alignment, Rubio’s absence or the flow of the game is debatable.
“Probably a little of everything,” coach Quin Snyder said. “I think it was more our inefficiency at times, reading the defense.
“At times you have to be creative on some level with our passing and be efficient in getting some of those similar looks when available.”
After his initial shot, Gobert went on to make all four of his attempts, to go with nine rebounds. He finished with 11 points.
“I thought we got better throughout the game, but we weren’t making the right decisions and were too slow in making the decisions we were making,” Snyder said. “The game got better as it went on, but that’s a challenge — their quickness, what they did, you have to make quick decisions, you have know where you’re going with the ball even before you get it — or at least have an idea.”