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Rudy Gobert says Mavs bench crossed the line in an emotional game, wants more action from officials

In a possible playoff preview, emotions were high. Gobert said that there were disrespectful things being said by the Mavericks bench

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Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) blocks a shot attempt by Dallas Mavericks center Dwight Powell, right, as Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, left, looks on in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Monday, March 7, 2022.

Tony Gutierrez, AP

DALLAS — Emotions were running high on Monday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

There were multiple technical fouls, a lot of trash talk, some sneaky gamesmanship, sniping back and forth, players were yelling at the officials, coaches were yelling at the officials, players were yelling at each other. All pretty typical stuff, especially from two of the best players on the court — Rudy Gobert and Luka Doncic.

“Just emotions, just basketball,” Gobert said after the Jazz lost, 111-103. “Europeans, we play with a lot of emotions sometimes. It’s part of the game.”

That’s an easy way to explain away hard fouls and disagreements over calls. It can even explain what happened at the end of the first half when Doncic felt that he was fouled by Gobert, but when the official didn’t blow a whistle, Doncic tossed the game ball toward Gobert and was issued a technical foul.

The Jazz take the free shot coming out of halftime and then move along. Nothing to see here.

The emotions of the game can also easily explain why Doncic was trying to get a second technical called on Gobert and get him ejected from the game.

But even the officials saw the blatant flop from Doncic and again, the game went on without incident. After the game, Gobert mentioned that Doncic had been trying to bait him into getting mad and even Doncic owned up to the flop when it was all said and done.

The Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks have played two games in the last two weeks — one in Utah and one in Dallas — with the home team winning both times. Those games have felt like playoff contests and in those types of games you expect for emotions to run high and for every player to try to find an advantage any way that they can.

But after Monday’s game, Gobert worried that the officials ignored things that were being said by the players on the Mavericks bench.

“There were a lot of things being said that wouldn’t be said outside of a basketball court,” Gobert said. “A lot of things that I would never say. I’m not perfect but I don’t say things to guys on the court that I wouldn’t say to their face outside the locker room.”

Gobert didn’t want to repeat what was said. But his point was not to point fingers at the Mavericks players or what was being said. Instead, his point was that the emotions of the game are already high enough and that officials should do more to keep things from getting out of hand.

Things didn’t get out of hand on Monday, but Gobert said that he should never have to make a decision between standing up for himself or staying in the game. If he were to respond to inappropriate things being said, he would likely be called for a technical or get into a larger altercation and be ejected from the game. If he stays quiet, it feels like he is signaling that it’s acceptable to say disrespectful things to him.

“I think that officials have to be able to keep that in check on both sides,” Gobert said. “Make sure that no lines are being crossed, whether it’s verbally or through actions.”