When Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley are on the basketball court, good things tend to happen.
The Utah Jazz center and point guard atop the NBA’s plus-minus leaderboard this season, Nos. 1 and 2 respectively. And the gap between the two Jazz All-Stars and the rest of the league only got wider Monday night.
Gobert and Conley watched nearly all of the fourth quarter of the Jazz’s 114-75 blowout win over Cleveland from the bench. Gobert had 18 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks. Conley finished with 18 points (16 of them in the third quarter), five assists and four boards. Both players ended the night with a plus-38 next to their names on the box score.
No matter how wide that gap gets, though, Gobert wants his team to keep its foot on the gas.
“Regardless of the score, regardless if you’re up, if you’re down, we really want to keep getting better every single minute on the court,” Gobert said. “We want to play defense and we want to share the ball offensively. Tonight, I think was probably one of our best games in terms of consistency defensively. Every single minute on the court, everyone that came in was locked in defensively. It was big.”
The Jazz tied a franchise record with their 20th consecutive home win and improved their league-best record to 34-11 on the season.
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell scored a team-high 19 points in Monday’s blowout win.
“When you’re up by that much, it’s tough to stay locked in,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been culprits of that a few times this year and last year. For us, this showed we continued to stay locked in.”
Cleveland guard Collin Sexton scored a game-high 20 points. His backcourt mate Darius Garland scored 18. But the Jazz held the Cavs to the second fewest points of any opponent this season.
“Our communication was great from the beginning,” Gobert said. “We didn’t let them comfortable. They have a lot of guards that can score a lot of points if they get comfortable. We did a great job protecting the paint and we didn’t give them many transition points. We did a great job getting back and setting our defense. When you have to play against our half-court defense, it’s a different game.”
Conley scored 16 of his 18 points in the third quarter, helping the Jazz push their advantage to as much as 41 points along the way.
“Our coaches, especially Coach Quin, are pushing us every time out, pushing us at halftime of games like this, to continue to try to be perfect, try to be great,” Conley said of his team’s focus. “In order to do that, you have to be consistent. We’ve kind of taken that and run with it. Tonight, we were able to accomplish that for four quarters.”
The Jazz have now outscored opponents by 402 points in Conley’s minutes on the court this season. Gobert, meanwhile, is a league-best plus-464.
And Gobert wants that number to keep growing as his team prepares for the postseason.
“In the playoffs it’s going to be huge for me to be dominant out there,” he said. “I keep trying to raise my level so when it’s playoff time, we’re at our best defensively.”
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) March 30, 2021
Memphis again? Memphis again. The Jazz head out on the road for their third game against the Grizzlies in a week’s span. Tipoff is set for Wednesday at 6 p.m.