So far, the magic numbers for Rudy Gobert are six and 28. Those totals are the amounts of double-doubles and dunks the Utah Jazz center owns so far in the young season.
For Utah, their key number is three as in a three-game winning streak.
Gobert hopes to chalk up another double-double, add a few more dunks and Utah hopes to get a fourth straight win Wednesday night when it visits the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Gobert is averaging 17.7 points and 13.5 rebounds. He leads the league in dunks and has recorded a double-double in each game so far, doing so after dunking 151 times and compiling 30 double-doubles in 56 games last season.
On Sunday, Gobert dunked four times while finishing with 23 points and 16 rebounds in a 113-104 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
“I want to show that I’m not only a defensive star,” Gobert told reporters. “I can be a star offensively, too.”
Gobert’s dunking ability is helping the Jazz shoot 66.2 percent (131-of-198) on shots from less than five feet out and 67.9 percent 127-of-187) on shots inside the restricted area.
On Sunday, it wasn’t just Gobert in the second night of a back-to-back set. Donavan Mitchell added 20 points while Jae Crowder contributed 15 as the Jazz shot 52.5 percent.
Derrick Favors did not play due to a sore knee and was replaced in the starting lineup by Crowder. Georges Niang also saw time off the bench in the frontcourt and chipped in 13 on a night when Alec Burks rested a sprained left hand.
“We’re not a team that’s about any one guy. We’re not about our starters, we’re not about our bench, we’re not about any one player — this is a group that has to perform together,” Utah coach Quin Snyder told reporters. “So when guys play together and play the right way, we’re a better team.”
Crowder rolled his ankle at the end of Sunday’s game but is listed as probable for Wednesday. Favors and Burks are listed as questionable, meaning Utah could again lean heavily on a reserve unit that has totaled 77 points in the last two games.
Besides trying for a fourth straight win, Utah is trying to remain unbeaten on the road through five games for the first time since 1992-93.
Minnesota is off to an uneven start as it plays through the off-court saga of Jimmy Butler’s trade request that he made in September.
On Monday, the Timberwolves rebounded from a 30-point home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks by recording a 124-120 win over the Los Angeles Lakers as both Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns played well in the same game.
Butler led Minnesota with 32 points while Towns totaled 25 and a season-high 16 rebounds. It was the first time Butler and Towns scored at least 20 points in the same game.
“There will be some ups and downs and how you deal with both are important,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters. “If things are going well if you start to feel too good about yourself, you’re usually going to get knocked down. You also have to know how to lift yourself up when things aren’t going your way.”
Butler’s criticism of Towns has been part of his desire to leave Minnesota but both players put their differences aside to help the Wolves get their best win of the season in a game played at a breakneck pace.
Butler hit five of his career-high six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter while Towns secured a key rebound in the final seconds to cap his second double-double of the season.
“It’s basketball,” Butler told reporters. “I don’t think nothing that’s gone on before this game has anything to do with us going out there and competing. We all go out there, play together, play to win.”
Although Towns had his most productive game of the season, he shot 7 of 18 and committed five turnovers. So far, he is shooting 42.1 percent (40-of-95).
“I’m not worried about it. I just want to make sure I do as much as I can on the defensive end to impact the game there,” Towns told reporters. “Offense will come just whenever it comes.”
On Wednesday, he will try to get it going against Gobert for the 11th time.
Gobert is 8-2 in their head-to-head meetings and averaging 12.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and shooting 64.4 percent. Towns is averaging 20.6 points and 11 rebounds on 53.5 percent shooting.
Minnesota was without Andrew Wiggins for a third straight game due to a right quad contusion and is day-to-day. Rookie Josh Okogie started for Wiggins, scored 17 points Monday and would likely start again if Wiggins is out.
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