Forty-one nights after his positive coronavirus test kicked off the NBA season suspension, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert scored the league’s first restart points. , by converting a drop-pass move on former teammate Derrick Favors on the opening possession of a Thursday night game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
More importantly, Gobert also scored the final points of the game, hitting a pair of free-throw-frees with 6.9 seconds remaining.
“I’m just grateful,” Gobert told ESPN in a phone interview following Jazz’s 106-104 victory at the Walt Disney World HP Field House. “I’m just grateful to be able to do what I love to do. After everything I̵7;ve personally been able to do and everything the world is going through now, to be able to continue to inspire millions of children around the world and continue to spread positivity. it is just a blessing
“And it’s good to start with a win, for sure.”
It was also an appropriate way to end the win, as shooting guard Donovan Mitchell broke through the defense with a dribble penetration and a free kick to Gobert to lead to free-throws. Favors ’damage left Gobert from ending up with a worthy dunk, but the play still remained proof that the Jazz co-stars whose split dominated the concession news coverage for months could continue to have a productive partnership.
“Donovan was trying to make the right play and he did,” said Gobert, who had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks in the win, which was sealed when forward Pelicans Brandon Ingram missed 3 the pointer in the sound. “Most people probably won’t be able to say the things they want to say to try to break up our team. Like I said, life works mysteriously.”
The Jazz All-Stars pair did not speak for the first month of the hiatus because Mitchell, who tested positive for COVID-19 hours after Gobert, was upset about the attitude of a 7 footer cavalier about the pandemic. of coronavirus before Gobert knew he was infected.
However, the two acknowledged that there was friction between them before the pandemic, primarily regarding how often Mitchell passed to Gobert and the big man’s tendency to complain about it.
“We went, and we talked about using all of this experience to get better, and I think those two guys did it,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
After several productive private conversations, with all responsibility, Gobert and Mitchell have both publicly expressed confidence that in recent weeks they can continue to win together and have the desire to shift attention back to the future. team as a whole. They reiterated that position after working together on the critical play in Thursday’s win.
“That kind of breaks you don’t have to talk about, to be honest with you,” said Mitchell, who had two of his five assists on lobs for Gobert in the third quarter, when the Jazz were ruling from 16- the deficit point. “In the end, we are basketball players. We go out there and play the right games. He did a hell of a job. I try to find my way and find men to open up. For me, at the end of the Game, it’s time to do the right reading. I’ve told you a thousand times that I’m trying to be better, a better playmaker as a whole. To be able to do this in these situations just shows the steps I’ve taken.
“He just trust him and trust me. That’s really what he is. … He had the first two points, and for that [play] to finish it off, it has to kind of seal everything as far as talking about that extra stuff. “
Mitchell scored eight of his 20 points in the final five minutes, with one beating the Pelicans in stoppage time, as the Jazz put the final points on their comeback. He matched Utah’s biggest comeback of the season, also balancing the Portland Trail Blazers with 16 in the Feb. 7 win, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.
Mitchell had eight previous Jazz points when, with an equal score, he drove in the middle of the lane after beating New Orleans guard Jrue Holiday with a dribble behind his back, forcing the Favors to help and they made a beautiful one passed by hand to Gobert.
“To make the plays he made late and leave the ball out to Rudy and then have Rudy do both free-throws, it shows a lot of confidence in your partner,” Snyder said. “Maybe I’ll change my mind and say it’s poetic, but I don’t want to settle too much. Those two guys have done that hundreds and hundreds of times over the last [three] years, the time they have been playing together. It’s great to see them catch on in court. “
Gobert still had to sink the pressure-packed free-throws, which were a problem for him. He entered the 1-of-8 game on free-throws in the last 10 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime of this season, according to ESPN Stats & Info research, the worst video (12.5%) of any player with at least five attempts in such situations.
But Gobert made two free-throws with the game on the line, saying he simply focused on how he kept the ball and his follow-up, not the magnitude of the moment.
After the game ended, the last interaction between the players on the ground was Mitchell walking forward for a high-five exchange with Gobert ahead of the TNT center interview.
“Every team has disadvantages,” Gobert said. “The most important thing is the way you react. It takes a bigger man to take the high path in life. The two of us are doing it now. We both keep trying to make each other better. That’s ours. The needs of our team and community are needed. “