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Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder hopes the Stifle Tower gets dunked on some more

Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends during the third quarter during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The Grizzlies won 100-90. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends during the third quarter during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, in Salt Lake City. The Grizzlies won 100-90. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer, AP

PHOENIX — Rudy Gobert might've been more surprised than anyone that Damian Lillard dunked on him Tuesday night in Portland.

Not because he believes Lillard isn’t athletic nor because the Stifle Tower thinks his 7-foot-9 wingspan is impenetrable.

The 7-foot-1 center just didn't think the Blazers star was going to attack the rim on that fourth-quarter play during Utah’s 103-102 loss at the Moda Center.

“I was on the side,” said Gobert, explaining that he wasn’t in the prime blocking position. “I thought he was going to pass it, to be honest. He surprised me too. It’s not the last one I’m going to get.”

Gobert, whose team takes on Phoenix Friday night, didn't like being dunked on, of course. Nobody does. He even went to the Internet to defend himself after Lillard’s emphatic slam went viral and was prominently featured in sports highlights.

“Yeah,” Gobert wrote, “the best rim protector of the @NBA gets dunked on sometimes.”

One very influential man didn't mind that it happened.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

“Good. I’m glad. That means he’s protecting the rim,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said with a grin. “I hope he gets dunked on again. Every time he gets dunked on, he’s going to block at least two or three of them.”

In reality, the ratio is much wider than that.

NBA players might want to keep this statistic in mind when they bravely attempt to be the one who gets on SportsCenter by dunking over Gobert.

It rarely happens.

Lillard joined an elite group of players who’ve got posteresque dunks over Gobert this season. Others include DeAndre Jordan, Vince Carter and Josh Smith.

Compare that to Gobert's 105 blocks on the season — of shots made by 88 different NBA players — and the odds are in his favor.

“Getting dunked on, I really don’t care. It’s just a play. I like to block shots,” the 22-year-old said. “Sometimes it can happen. If you don’t block shots, you don’t get dunked on.”

The second-year big man, who’s averaging 2.14 blocks per game, leads the NBA with 50 swatted shots since the calendar turned. He’s dominating the league in blocks per 48 minutes with 4.72, almost one block more than No. 2 Bismack Biyombo (3.81).

At that rate, Gobert will pass the statistical category’s current leader Anthony Davis (123 blocks) by the end of the season.

“He’s good at protecting the rim. You’re going to get caught if you’re going after (the ball),” Snyder said. “It’s easy to get out of the way. It’s hard to challenge every shot, and that’s what he’s trying to do.”

Some humor came out of Gobert being dunked on. Shortly after his defensive tweet, teammate Derrick favors posted a rebuttal to Gobert’s claim about being the NBA’s best rim protector.

Favors’ tweet to Gobert: “(Laugh out loud) second best.”

The two happened to be sitting next to each other on the team plane.

“That was pretty funny,” Gobert said. “He told me he was going to tweet it.”

So, is Favors a better rim protector? “We’ve got all the stats,” Gobert said, laughing. “You can do a check.”

Technically, neither of those two players is even the best rim protector on the Jazz. Interestingly, seldom-used shooting guard Ian Clark has the best rim-protecting statistics. He’s held his opponents to 22.2 percent shooting within 5 feet of the basket.

Of course, Clark’s sample size is much smaller than either of the Jazz bigs.

If NBA.com's stats are the baseline for judging interior defenders, Gobert has no equal.

Only two (of 101) players whose opponents shoot at least four shots a game at the rim hold foes under 40 percent shooting: Gobert (37.7 percent) and Miami’s Hassan Whiteside (39.7 percent).

Favors, who averages 1.6 blocks and is one of the better rim protectors, allows opponents to shoot 48.6 percent near the hoop.

And, yes, he gets dunked on from time to time, too.

Favors just isn’t quite as outwardly defensive about it, as was the case with Lillard’s impressive athletic feat.

“Of course, I would have preferred blocking the shot,” Gobert added. “But it can happen sometimes.”

What bothers him worse is hearing about it and being mocked on the Internet.

“The thing I don’t like is that people on social media they get crazy about it,” he said. “(Some) don’t even know basketball. … It just gets me mad.”

Snyder broke out into laughter when he heard that Gobert took it personal on Twitter.

“I like Rudy,” he said with a big grin. “Guys are giving him a hard time. It’s good. It’s good. At least it was Damian Lillard. A lot of guys get dunked on by Damian. It’s a pretty good guy to get dunked on (by).”

So, does Gobert have a long memory when it comes to getting dunked on?

“It doesn’t happen a lot,” he said, “so I remember.”

Here’s guessing guys who get blocked by him remember, too.

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