Rudy Gobert said the Jazz need to have more fun when playing the game of basketball. No matter the result or the pressure for the pursuit of a championship, Gobert believes the best route to success is just enjoying the game they’ve all been playing for most of their lives. 

“I think it’s on us to really enjoy the game and really have fun, regardless of what’s going on,” Gobert said on Wednesday. “We are playing basketball for a living, so let’s enjoy it.”

On Friday night, the Jazz did just that. 

Regardless of the score, Utah had a much more concentrated effort on enjoying themselves. From highlight dunks to insane shot-making, the bench was loud and active, and the crowd at Vivint Arena fed into it. 

What resulted was a thing of beauty. 

Led by three scorers with 20+ points, including another monster performance by Gobert, Utah bounced back and avenged an earlier loss by taking down Detroit 111-101.

“Winning helps cure a lot of things,” Mike Conley said with a smile. “It felt like we hadn’t won in forever the way we’ve been playing and how we’ve been feeling. .. Just to get a win in the way we did tonight, it helps us build confidence.”

With no Donovan Mitchell for the second consecutive game — out due to concussion protocol — Gobert answered the call in a big way. 

He finished with another double-double, dropping a season-high 24 points with 14 rebounds and four blocks. He shot 8-of-11 from the field and 8-for-11 from the free throw line. His 11 shot attempts were the second-most he’s had in a month, while his 11 free attempts were the most since the start of the new year.

He was sensational offensively, being very aggressive and physical, which benefitted him and the team. With Gobert being a legitimate scoring presence down low, it opened up the driving lanes for the guards as Utah finished with 50 points in the paint. 

“I don’t know if we can be any more committed to getting Rudy the ball than we are. … And I know that’s something he appreciates,” head coach Quin Snyder said.

“I think if he can get good position down low, especially the position at the rim or he can have his hands high and turn and finish, I think that’s the ideal position for which I can give him the ball,” Conley said of Gobert. “We’ll do that as much as we can.”

One of those players who benefitted the most from Gobert’s presence was Jordan Clarkson.

Without Mitchell, others would have to pick up the scoring slack — and Clarkson rose to that occasion. He totaled 20 points off the bench, finishing with a +16 rating in 31 minutes. Knocking down 3-of-5 from three-point territory, Clarkson attacked the rim relentlessly by finishing with 12 shots within the arc. 

Most importantly, Clarkson also had arguably the play of the game when the Jazz needed it most.

Clinging to a six-point lead with just over four minutes to go, Clarkson skied for an offensive rebound. After dribbling it out while surrounded by three Pistons defenders, Clarkson reversed and drove back into the lane, dropping a little floater to ignite the crowd and give Utah all the momentum to finish the game strong. 

Bojan Bogdanovic also continued his stellar play of late, finishing with a very efficient 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, and 6-for-7 from the free throw line. He added six rebounds and two assists.

The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair, with each attempting to establish a rhythm on both ends of the court. But as he’s done all season, Clarkson came off the bench and gave the Jazz a spark, going on a personal 6-0 run to help give Utah a one-point lead at the end of the first. 

Detroit started hot in the second quarter, using a quick 7-2 run to take the lead. AThe Jazz battled back by going on an 11-2 run late in the half to lead 60-52 at the break.

Showing that same fight they had two weeks ago, the Pistons used a 9-0 run midway through the third quarter to take a 67-64 lead. Not to be outdone, Utah responded with a 14-3 run later in the quarter to take an 87-82 advantage heading into the final 12 minutes.

The back-and-forth affair continued as Utah’s lead was cut to one midway through the fourth. But a 9-2 run, punctuated by Clarkson’s offensive rebound and bucket, helped the Jazz get the momentum back. Mike Conley closed the game with six straight points to seal the victory.

Conley finished with 19 points, four rebounds, and four assists, while Trent Forrest came off the bench to finish with eight points and four assists. The Jazz bench unit was sensational as Clarkson, Forrest, and Paschall all finished with a +15 rating or better. 

“Really the thing that group did was defend,” Snyder said.

Utah now heads back on the road for the most brutal back-to-back in the league when they face Golden State on Sunday and Phoenix on Monday. Tipoff against the Warriors is set for 6:30 p.m. MST.


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?