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Analysis: Jazz blow out lowly Rockets in Rudy Gobert’s return

Rudy Gobert was a plus-19 in 22 minutes in his first game back after missing the last nine.

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Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) dunks the ball during an NBA game against the Houston Rockets at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. The Jazz won 135-101.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz beat the Houston Rockets, 135-101, on Monday night at Vivint Arena, extending their winning streak to six games.

High Notes

  • In Rudy Gobert’s return, after missing nine games with  a left calf strain, the three-time All-Star center looked like he hadn’t missed a second and immediately made everyone remember why he’s a three-time All-Star and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. An impressive plus-19 in 22 minutes, he finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists. We all know what Gobert can do and how good he is, but sometimes that kind of talent can be totally taken for granted. What I mean is that Gobert makes everything that he does on the court look so easy, but what he does is not easy at all. Creating space and setting hard screens and pushing around bodies and posting up in a way that collapses defenses and defending in a way that impacts multiple actions and then has ripple effects is not easy, but Gobert somehow makes it look like every player should be able to do what he does.
    “The way that he plays — you cannot see on a stat sheet how big of an impact he has on all of us. Like even when (Dennis) Schroeder was going for a couple of layups he ended up passing outside because he saw Rudy over there in the middle of the paint. You cannot see that on a stat sheet. All those small things that he does, it’s just unbelievable.” — Bojan Bogdanovic
  • Danuel House Jr. made his full roster spot debut with the Jazz and was just about as efficient as you could be for someone who is still learning the system. He got offensive boards, knocked down shots, defended well, and hustled. That’s why the Jazz wanted him and it’s what earned him the deal through the rest of the season.

  • Speaking of hustle … there has been a very legitimate fear that once Gobert returned to play that the Jazz’s perimeter defense, which has seen some pretty drastic improvement just from an effort stance in the last couple of weeks, would drop off again because they would once again have Gobert there to clean up messes and act as a safety net. I still think that it’s fair to worry that the Jazz could fall back into a bad habit of relying too heavily on Gobert, but at least in Gobert’s first game back, the Jazz didn’t ease off the gas pedal on defense. That’s not to say that they’re flawless or that they still can’t improve — they weren’t, and they can. But, the effort and intensity weren’t lacking and that’s half the battle.
    “That’s how you build those winning habits. And I can’t say those were there earlier in the year. Now we’re all holding each other accountable and all communicating and that’s allowing us to take that step.” — Donovan Mitchell
  • Bojan Bogdanovic and Donovan Mitchell were both so great in this game. Mitchell dropped 30 points and was really good defensively. I think that Mitchell has been pretty incredible on the defensive end since he got back from his concussion. It’s probably a combination of what Mitchell saw when he was sitting out along with wanting to match the intensity of the rest of the team, but no matter what it’s been, Mitchell has raised his level of play.

  • Bogdanovic also had a sneaky-good defensive game and he shot the ball great (57.1% overall and 57.1% from 3-point range). Bogdanovic seems to be getting even better at picking his spots and choosing when to drive or post or shoot. I don’t think it’s wild to think that he’s gotten better at reading defenses since joining the Jazz.

Low Notes

  • Trent Forrest has been on such a tear lately and been so dialed in that it was a little surprising that he had such an off night against the Rockets. Maybe rangey long arms are what makes the game difficult for Forrest and since Houston has a lot of those it would make sense. But I think what’s more likely is that a young player had an off night and that he’ll be fine. You can’t be great every single day.
  • Gobert got ejected from the game after being assessed two separate technical fouls. The first was because of complaining after a call, and the second was for unnecessary contact after a whistle. Bogdanovic was also assessed a technical foul for complaining to the official. I’m really glad that I’m not an NBA official because I wouldn’t want to listen to these dudes complain about legitimate calls all day long every day and call me all manner of names for no good reason. That being said, it feels like the subjectivity of the technical fouls are so wild that there’s no real way to pin down what makes a technical foul and what’s acceptable. I feel for the players here too because it has to be hard to basically keep a scouting report on officials to know what kind of temperament you’re allowed to play with.

Flat Notes

  • Free Eric Gordon. Save Stephen Silas. Both deserve better than 15-41 and rumors about their futures.