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Being a good team in the NBA is going to draw ire from many, especially teams on the losing end of things.
It was just last week that we heard players from the Minnesota Timberwolves question the validity of Rudy Gobert as a defender and take shots at his abilities. That didn’t look very good in hindsight as the Wolves were talking on the wrong side of a 32-point loss to the Utah Jazz.
But you didn’t think that the jabs, jibes and digs would stop, did you?
This week another player decided to target the Jazz defense, but he took a little bit of a different approach. Los Angeles Clippers forward Marcus Morris decided he would give Gobert his just desserts. Morris said that Gobert is great at his job, it’s everyone else that he took down in his postgame comments on Wednesday night.
After the Jazz beat the Clippers, 124-103, Morris was asked about being forced to take more mid-range and 3-point shots because of Gobert’s presence at the rim. Morris harkened back to the recent playoff series between the two teams, saying that he didn’t see anything new.
“They’re still the same team, ain’t nothing changed,” Morris said. “He protects all of them. None of them can really defend. Just funnel it to him. And it’s tough — he’s a great player and he does a great job of anticipation, staying down, being real solid. So you know who they are.”
Now, there’s definitely a little bit of truth to that statement. Yes, Gobert is a great player and yes, the Jazz’s defensive scheme often relies on funneling action toward him so that he can shut things down. But it’s not really all that simple.
Even without getting into the minutiae of the Jazz’s defensive principles, the cheap shot here is at every other Jazz player. “None of them can really defend,” is a bad generalization that just isn’t true.
I think the thing that I find the most interesting though is that Morris seems to remember the playoff series against the Jazz, but has somehow forgotten how Game 1 of that series ended.
The Clippers had a chance to tie the game at the end and the Jazz didn’t funnel anything inside. Instead they all stayed on the perimeter and to a man, guarded so well that Morris ended up getting his last-second 3-point shot blocked by Gobert. Not inside, not at the rim, but beyond the arc.
On that same play, Royce O’Neale and Joe Ingles locked up Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to the point that the final shot was given to Morris. I’m certain the Clippers would have rather had George or Leonard with the ball in their hands for a final look, but the Jazz’s defense didn’t allow for that.
Memories are a fickle thing though. Some people just remember what they want to.
New with the Jazz
Stat of the week
Through 27 games, the Utah Jazz have the NBA’s No. 1 offense with an offensive rating of 117.7. They also have the fifth-best defense in the league with a defensive rating of 106.1.
This week on ‘Unsalvageable’
Check out “Unsalvageable: A Utah Jazz Podcast,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster). This week the crew has two new episodes — one recapping the Jazz’s undefeated four-game road trip and catching up on the latest news around the league, and a bonus episode reacting to the Jazz hiring Danny Ainge.
From the archives
This week in Jazz history
On Dec. 14, 1985, the Utah Jazz retired Pete Maravich’s uniform No. 7. “Pistol” Pete averaged 24.2 points per game in 10 NBA seasons ending in 1979-80.
- There’s more to Jordan Clarkson’s game than just scoring buckets (Deseret News)
- A look at how Utah Jazz players choose their sneakers (KSL.com)
- Royce O’Neale is the pulse of the Utah Jazz (Salt Lake Tribune)
- Jazz urge ongoing COVID-19 vigilance (Salt Lake Tribune)
Around the league
NBA to increase COVID-19 testing and protocols.
New Orleans Pelicans announce Zion Williamson will be out an additional 4-6 weeks.
Stephen Curry broke the all-time made 3-pointers record; here are some fun facts.
Dec. 17 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio Spurs | AT&T SportsNet
Dec. 18 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Washington Wizards | AT&T SportsNet
Dec. 20 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Charlotte Hornets | AT&T SportsNet
Dec. 23 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Minnesota Timberwolves | AT&T SportsNet
Dec. 25 | 8:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks | ESPN