Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder is trying to keep the Rudy Gobert love-fest under control. The 7-foot-1 Frenchman was already a fan favorite as a shot-swatting reserve, but the attention has increased since the organization traded away Enes Kanter and inserted Gobert into the starting lineup.
Gobert sparked another victory over a top team in his second consecutive start and the Jazz beat San Antonio 90-81 on Monday night, extending the Spurs’ losing streak to three since returning from the All-Star hiatus.
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”It’s trying to build an identity,” Snyder said. ”Guys are working. That’s really what it all comes down to. It’s nothing special.
”Rudy’s been very good and (he) has an impact. It’s more than Rudy. I’m taking nothing away from Rudy’s presence. And his impact is significant. … (But) everybody’s trying to do their part. When you get that, it’s no one player.”
The younger Jazz were clearly the more athletic team out the gate – turning over the Spurs and scoring in transition. They used three consecutive fast-break buckets, including an alley-oop to Gobert, to take a 13-8 lead. The advantage extended to 11 points after an 11-4 run highlighted by another Gobert alley-oop and three buckets from Trey Burke.
Gobert set the defensive tone from the outset with two first-quarter blocks of Tim Duncan. He finished with seven points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and two steals as the Jazz have held their last five opponents under 100 points.
”He’s a long drink of water. He changes shots, blocks shots he does a good job,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Spurs committed a season-high 22 turnovers, leading to 17 Utah points.
”Communication was way better and is still getting better,” Gobert said. ”When we communicate, we play great. And we make a lot of hustle plays and great defensive plays, transition baskets and we get going.
”(Duncan) is a great player and I know he’s very smart. I knew he was going to try to make me foul and lose my balance.”
Trey Burke scored 23 points and was outstanding with his midrange game for the second consecutive game. Forward Gordon Hayward scored 18 despite a 4-for-15 shooting night, while Derrick Favors added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, who beat Portland in their last outing.
Duncan had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Boris Diaw chipped in 13 points and Cory Joseph had 10. The Spurs were unable to put together any type of run the entire game.
”I thought we took a lot of contested shots that we didn’t need to take,” Popovich said. ”I don’t think we played very smart in that regard but I thought for the whole 48 they were aggressive and they were focused. It was real impressive.”
Spurs: The Spurs have used 23 different starting lineups this season. Monday’s combination of Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Aron Baynes, Danny Green and Tony Parker is 1-4. … The Spurs’ previous season high for turnovers was 20. … Parker was held scoreless through the first half and didn’t score his first points until midway through the third quarter. He finished with five points, five assists and four turnovers. Parker was held to two points in their previous game. … The Spurs’ last lead was at 8-7 in the first quarter. … The Spurs have lost three in a row for the second time this season. … The Spurs shot 26.3 percent from behind the arc and 57.1 percent from the free-throw line.
Jazz: Grant Jerrett was available for the first time since being acquired from Oklahoma City as part of the trade that sent center Enes Kanter to the Thunder. The former Arizona forward was the No. 40 overall pick in the 2013 draft and has played in five NBA games, all this with the Thunder this season. He did not play Monday. … Football Hall of Famer Gayle Sayers was in attendance.
Burke attacked with a variety of pull-ups, floaters and dribble-drives to the rim. Snyder said he’s been working daily on his in-between game and finishing at the rim. Burke said he’s ”just staying confident.”