MINNEAPOLIS — It wasn’t a great road trip for Rudy Gobert, who averaged just 5.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in the five road games since the Jazz last played in Salt Lake City, all under his season averages of 9.3 ppg, 10.8 rpg and 2.4 bpg.
“He’s a 24-year-old young player if you look at most players his age, there’s a growth process,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “Because Rudy has been effective as a rim-protector there’s a tendency for us to all feel like he’s arrived as a player. Really no one has at 24 and in his case it just shows, as good as he is at certain things, there’s other things that he needs to continue to work on.”
Snyder was happy with Gobert’s defense Saturday night and said fatigue may have been also be a factor, even though Gobert sat out 20 games with a midseason injury.
“He’s probably hit the proverbial wall and had to make adjustments in season,” explained Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “Last year after All-Star break was a very finite stretch of time with a completely different mindset in how (opponents) approach him. Last year people weren’t prepared to play against him and now he’s garnering much more attention. There’s all kinds of things he’s learning about the game because more is asked of him.”
Gobert shrugged it off, saying “I just need to focus on what I can control and be better for the team. Now I’m focused on the last 10 games and the playoffs and I’m feeling good today and it’s time to help the team win.”
RISE AND SHINE: The usual shootaround time for the Utah Jazz on game days is around 11 a.m., but on Saturday Quin Snyder scheduled the shootaround for 9 a.m. local time.
Was he just trying to punish the media guys, who generally cover shootarounds, but also like to sleep in?
“We did it early so our players have to get up,” Snyder said with a smile.
Actually, the venue had the most to do with it.
The Jazz couldn’t hold shootaround at the Target Center a few blocks down the street because the Harlem Globetrotters were there, getting ready for a 1 p.m. game. The original plan was a 10:30 shootaround at the University of Minnesota. But the Jazz figured it was too far away.
So in the end, the Jazz held their shootaround at their hotel, on the LifeTime Minneapolis Athletic Club court located on the third floor of The Grand Hotel. It was convenient for the players, who just had to take the elevator down to practice on a court about the size of a local church house.
WHY NETO? Early in the season, Snyder made the decision to play rookie Raul Neto ahead of Trey Burke, partly because he wanted Burke’s scoring punch off the bench. However, Burke actually played more minutes than Neto and finished more games in the fourth quarter than Neto.
So why is Neto the main backup over Burke now that Shelvin Mack has established himself as the starting point guard?
Snyder says it mostly comes down to defense.
“Raul has been one of the better defenders at his position in the league,” said Snyder. “Raul has been a very consistent defender all year and it’s something Trey has improved at. On an analytical level our team has defended very well with
Snyder also pointed out that Neto is the top rookie in 3-point shooting among players with at least 90 attempts at 41.2 percent, ahead of D’Angelo Russell (35.1) and Devin Booker (35.0).
As for Burke, Snyder says he’s been pleased with the positive attitude he’s kept since being relegated to third-string point guard.
“I have a ton of respect for how he’s handling the situation he’s in,” Snyder said. “It’s very difficult to play three guys. The other night when we were down, it was a good opportunity for Trey to come in and try to shake things up and he’s able to do that to come off the bench and give us some punch offensively.”
JAZZ NOTES: After five straight road games, the Jazz play three home games this week Monday against the Lakers, Wednesday against Golden State and Friday against Minnesota again . . . The Jazz had held seven of their last eight opponents under 100 points and are 30-11 when holding opponents under 100. ... Former Jazz great John Stockton celebrated his 54th birthday on Saturday.