Jazz, Gobert look to take out frustrations on Heat
Rudy Gobert may be looking to make a statement against the team where his recent troubles with NBA officiating crews began.
After Miami’s 102-100 win over Utah earlier in December, Gobert generated a bit of controversy with his postgame remarks about the officiating. He characterized the calls against him and Jazz teammates as inconsistent. The league fined Gobert $15,000 for his public criticism of the officiating.
The Jazz center seems to have drawn a greater degree of scrutiny on the court from officials since that outburst. He was ejected just three minutes into 118-91 victory over Houston last Thursday and played just 21 minutes because of foul trouble in a 122-113 loss to Oklahoma City on Monday.
Gobert, once again, is fed up.
“I’m gonna watch film; I hope everyone does the same,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune after the loss to the Thunder. “I don’t know. I feel disrespected. I want to play basketball, I want to do my job.”
A deeper problem for the Jazz (13-15) than any alleged targeting of Gobert is a lack of consistency. Sluggish starts on offense doomed Utah in back-to-back losses to San Antonio and Oklahoma City. The Jazz averaged just 41.0 first-half points in the two games.
Utah struggled from the perimeter from both games. The Jazz shot 31 percent from outside against the Spurs and connected on 28 percent of their attempts from long distance against the Thunder. It kept the Jazz from gaining ground once they dug themselves an early hole.
“When you put yourself behind the eight ball, you have to be lucky or perfect to get back in the game and win,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder told the team’s website. “We didn’t play well enough to deserve that. We were competing, but we didn’t execute. That’s what it comes down to.”
Miami comes to Utah during a six-game road trip. The Heat (11-15) opened the trip with wins over the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers before falling 108-105 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.
Justise Winslow is providing a big spark for the Heat on the trip and showing encouraging signs in his development. Through the last three games, Winslow is averaging 23.0 points on 56.8 percent shooting from the field. He is also shooting 52.4 percent from 3-point range in that stretch. It isn’t just scoring where he is making a difference either.
Winslow is also averaging 7.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists on the trip.
Winslow turned in his finest performance yet against the Lakers, where he set career highs in field goals made (11) and 3-pointers made (6) en route to a career-best 28 points.
“His confidence is growing,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the Miami Herald on Monday. “He’s not hunting for 30-point games, it’s all in the context of who he’s supposed to be. He’s finishing well. He’s making the right reads. He’s not making mistakes. These are all positive plays and sometimes you forget that he’s been in the league four years.”
Defending Hassan Whiteside will also be a concern for the Jazz if he’s available. Whiteside had 23 points, 20 rebound and three blocks in Miami’s recent victory over Utah. The veteran center has missed the last three games for the birth of his child.