SALT LAKE CITY — San Antonio Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge will be amongst the NBA’s elite on Sunday, Feb. 17 when he steps on the hardwood with Team LeBron for All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert will not.
On Saturday afternoon, Gobert continued to prove his case as an All-Star snub in Utah’s 125-105 win against San Antonio.
Gobert would end with 21 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks to Aldridge’s 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and one block.
“Big fella took that one personally and I think we got another one in Golden State that I think we’ll take personally,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said of Gobert. “I love to see that and I think that’s what we all love to see, and I think we all did a great job of giving him help but he didn’t really need much of it and it showed.”
Instead of making the game about their individual matchup, Gobert took the high road in his response to being asked about facing Aldridge. Although he was visibly upset and emotional with not making the All-Star team, Gobert said he still respects the guys chosen instead of him but has averaged 18 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game on 69.7 percent shooting in his last four games since Aldridge and the All-Star reserves were revealed on Jan. 31.
“He’s an All-Star and people know it, and even if he’s not an All-Star he’s still a very good player but that doesn’t really matter,” Gobert said of Aldridge. “I have to come out and try to stop the guy that’s trying to put the ball in the basket and that’s what he does. I have to come out ready and we have to come out ready as a team.”
Utah led by as many as 22 against the Spurs and really started to pull ahead in the first half with a 39-point second quarter to enter halftime up 62-48. Royce O’Neale was a spark off the bench with 17 points and five rebounds, especially when Jazz coach Quin Snyder utilized his small-ball lineup. O’Neale went 4-for-4 from beyond the arc to help the Jazz improve to 5-0 all-time when he posts 15 points or more.
“You know, doesn’t matter playing with who … just having that confidence and being able to guard and play multiple positions, that helps out for a lot of guys on the team,” O’Neale said. “I’ll take advantage of it (playing the four more) if it happens, but just the rotation and how things are working out.”
DeMar DeRozan led San Antonio with 23 points and five assists while Donovan Mitchell contributed 23 points, five assists and five rebounds to lead the Jazz. Thabo Sefolosha also returned after missing the past 15 games with a mild right hamstring strain to play the last 2:45, but didn’t score.
In preparation for Saturday’s midafternoon game, Jazz players Derrick Favors and Ricky Rubio both knew they needed rest beforehand.
The 3 p.m. tipoff also meant there weren’t any shootarounds held for either team, but that didn’t stop their pregame routine as preparation just began earlier in the day.
“No one got their nap but we didn’t do anything in the morning,” Snyder said of the early tipoff. “It probably affected the guys with young kids that woke them up early, but you’ve got to be able to play whenever the game starts.”
Players certainly made the most of their time as the Jazz won their second straight, with Golden State up next on the road Tuesday where Gobert will see another trio of All-Stars in Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.2 comments on this story
With the latest win, Utah also concluded the three-game season series against San Antonio with a 2-1 edge, and Gobert certainly got the upper hand against his All-Star counterpart even if he didn’t want to say so publicly.
“He’s a very good player and they have a very good team so I had to help us get the win,” Gobert said of Aldridge. “That was the No. 1 thing tonight was to get the win and like I always say, it’s a 5-on-5 game, it’s about how you impact the game. He could’ve had 30 and we would’ve won by 20 and I’d be happy.”