Next week, Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge will be head to Charlotte for his seventh appearance in the NBA’s All-Star Game.
And Rudy Gobert is certainly aware of that. The Utah Jazz center isn’t likely to soon forget the disappointment of being left out of this year’s All-Star Game. So on Saturday afternoon, Gobert wanted to put his best foot forward in his matchup with Aldridge.
“Big fella took that one personally,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said after his team’s 125-105 win at Vivint Smart Home Arena. “I love seeing that.”
Gobert led the Jazz to victory with 21 points (8-of-10 shooting), 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. And his defense on Aldridge helped limit the big man to 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
Afterward, Gobert admitted that the matchup was “a little bit” personal for him but added that winning remains the most important thing.
“He’s an All-Star and people know it,” Gobert said. “And even if he’s not an All-Star, he’s a very good player. So that doesn’t really matter. I have to come out and try to stop the guy that tries to put the ball in the basket. That’s what he does. I had to come out ready and we had to come out ready as a team.”
Aldridge is a tough cover who averages 21 points on 16 attempts per game. So Jazz head coach Quin Snyder was pleased with his team’s effort to slow down one of the Spurs’ most dangerous weapons.
“Rudy did an excellent job not allowing him to get to where he wanted to go in the post,” Snyder said. “He’s still capable of making those shots, but I thought we did a good job of contesting those shots and not fouling. The communication that Rudy and [Derrick Favors] had with the guards to switch when he popped a couple of times was good. I thought we just had a good awareness collectively.”
Said Mitchell, “We did a great job of giving him help but he didn’t need much of it. It showed.”
In the end, the Jazz earned their 32nd victory of the season, moving ahead of the Spurs in the Western Conference standings.
For Gobert, that’s what matters most
“We just had to get the win,” he said. “To me, that was the number one thing tonight. Like I always say, it’s a five-on-five game. It’s about how you impact the game. If he had 30 and we won by 20, I would have been happy.”