This weekend, when the Jazz face the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of a Western Conference first-round series, Gobert will face his ultimate challenge, his ultimate nemesis and the ultimate negative narrative of his game.
Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Jazz after not scoring more than 15 points in a game in the playoff series against the Rockets last season.
The Jazz have been a solid defensive team this season, giving up just 106.5 points per game.
The Rockets also played stellar defense helping hold the Jazz to 30-of-77 shooting and 7-of-27 from the three-point line.
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The Bruins forward was already hot because of a hit the Leafs centre threw in the previous game that he deemed dirty. Many judged that the referees let the game spiral out of control with their inconsistency on penalty calls.
Houston was up by 15 in the fourth quarter before Harden, who had eight rebounds, scored six points in a 9-2 run that stretched the lead to 108-86 with four minutes left and both teams cleared their benches about a minute after that. The Houston Rockets are averaging 122 points on 50.5 percent shooting and allowing 90 points on 39 percent shooting.
The Rockets are putting up 113.9 points per game on offense while shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from the arc. The Jazz haven't changed how they want to do things defensively and will encourage the Rockets to take those shots. Still, Houston has won eight of their last 10.
The Rockets and Jazz will pick up play on Wednesday.
The Jazz remained steadily behind as all five of Houston's starters scored in double-digits with two players notching double-doubles. The Jazz are 3-1-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Houston and 3-2-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. The spread isn't terribly big for this game and the Rockets are playing at a pretty high level right now. His three-point play at the 4:54 mark of the period extended the lead to 74-61 and, when Harden drilled a stepback 3-pointer with 3:09 left in the third, the Rockets reclaimed their 15-point lead. It was the kind of dominant defensive performance that gives the Rockets, a historically elite offensive team, confidence that they are legitimate title contenders. I'll eat the chalk again with the Rockets.
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz and Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz seen on the court during the game against the Houston Rockets on February 2, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.