SALT LAKE CITY — Can the Utah Jazz survive without Rudy Gobert?
Like it or not, Utah is about to discover the answer to that
question. Gobert is expected to be sidelined 4-to-6 weeks after an
MRI exam revealed a right tibia contusion. He suffered that injury
on Friday when Heat guard Dion Waiters rolled into his knee during
the third quarter of an 84-74 loss to Miami.
Gobert limped to the locker room, but returned to the game in the
fourth quarter. He did not play on Saturday in a 114-106 win over
Brooklyn and will be sidelined again when the Jazz host the
Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
The 7-foot-1 center is averaging 13.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5
blocks in 12 games this season.
Utah (6-7) started off on a promising note by defeating the Nets.
Derrick Favors stepped up in Gobert’s absence, scoring 24 points
and collecting 12 rebounds — both season highs — for his second
double-double of the season.
“We definitely needed this one,” Favors said. “We came together as
a team. We just went out there and played with a lot of energy.
Rudy (Gobert) was out, so it was a team effort, defensively,
offensively. We came in and brought a lot of energy, and won the
Favors is no stranger to the disruption injuries can cause. Back
and knee injuries plagued him over the past two seasons and robbed
the veteran forward of valuable athleticism. Those injuries also
reduced his role in the offense last season.
For the Jazz to succeed without Gobert, Favors will have to
continue to make a big impact on both ends of the floor. That’s
what Utah got from him against Brooklyn.
The floor is spaced differently when he is at the five,” Jazz coach
Quin Snyder said. “We’re small. That being said, whatever the floor
looks like, what he did, on both ends of the floor, I think he knew
how much we needed him and we rode him.”
The Timberwolves (7-5) are looking for ways to strengthen a
suddenly porous defense when they face the Jazz.
Minnesota fell 118-110 to Phoenix on Saturday to fall to 0-2 on its
current road trip. In those two games, the Timberwolves have
allowed an average of 121.5 points while allowing their opponents
to shoot 55 percent from the field.
It’s a 180-degree turn from how Minnesota started November, when it
held three straight opponents under 100 points. The reversal could
best be summed up in a late fourth-quarter sequence against the
The Timberwolves took a 103-97 lead on a 3-pointer from Jeff Teague
with 4:46 left. Then, Phoenix put together a decisive 14-0 run
behind several baskets from Devin Booker and T.J. Warren. The duo
scored 35 points apiece and had 22 of the Suns’ 33 fourth-quarter
“We’ve got to execute and we didn’t execute,” Minnesota coach Tom
Thibodeau said. “We got the lead and we gave it away. We took some
tough shots and we just couldn’t stop them.”
Three-point shooting has also been a growing concern over the past
two games. The Timberwolves shot a combined 9 of 44 from the
perimeter in their losses to Golden State and Phoenix.
Minnesota defeated Utah 100-97 on Oct. 20, behind 17 fourth-quarter
points from Jamal Crawford. The veteran guard, who signed with the
Timberwolves in the summer, hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 27.5