SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - NOVEMBER 29: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz celebrates a play in the second half during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 29, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Big Fourth Quarter Leads Utah To Victory Over Portland

In what was perceived to be a battle between two of the top backcourts in the NBA, a 7-footer from France named Rudy Gobert stole the show in the Jazz 129-107 win over the Trailblazers

In the NBA, there’s a fine line between being good and being great.

Good teams in the NBA find themselves in close games and sometimes pull out the victory. Great teams find ways to win. Good teams sometimes respond to adversity. Great teams do respond with big-time plays.

On Monday night against Portland, Utah proved that they are indeed a great team in the NBA. After having their 22-point lead evaporate to single digits early in the fourth quarter, the Jazz responded in a big way to pull out the 129-107 victory over the Trailblazers.

“As you spread out and make some shots, all of a sudden lanes to the basket open up,” head coach Quin Snyder said postgame. “In those situations, the ball doesn’t have to move, it just has to get laid in. … So I’m good with that too.”

In what was perceived to be a battle between two of the top backcourts in the NBA, a 7-footer from France stole the show.

Rudy Gobert, an all-star and reigning defensive player of the year, was sensational on both ends of the court.

Defensively, the big man did a great job of defending both players in the pick-and-roll, not allowing Portland guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to attack downhill. He also protected the rim as needed and had multiple deflections.

Offensively, he was a monster on the block, finishing with nearly double-digit dunks. He also did an excellent job of not getting sped up, constantly kicking the ball out and finding the open man for three-pointers, tying his season-high with three assists.

Altogether, Gobert finished with his 16th double-double when he posted 21 points and 16 rebounds. He added one steal, one block and finished with a game-high +29 rating in 32 minutes.

“As long as we play the right way, I don’t care how many shots I get,” said Gobert, who finished 9-of-11 from the floor. “If we attack where it hurts and make the right read, we’re going to get me under the rim or wide open threes. It’s all about the way we play. … As long as we move the ball and share the ball, it doesn’t really matter.”

Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley won the battle of the backcourts over Lillard and McCollum, each finishing with a positive rating while holding Lillard and McCollum in the negative.

Mitchell finished with a game-high 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field, adding five assists, four steals, and two rebounds. While only finishing with two points on four shots, Conley was as equally dominant with six assists and a +21 rating.

It was a slow start for both teams, with Portland jumping out to an early 21-13 lead with just under two minutes left in the opening quarter. Utah rallied with an 8-2 run to end the first, aided by three-pointers from Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson.

After both teams traded buckets early in the second quarter, the Jazz went on a 14-4 run to take the eight-point lead. After expanding it to 10 points following a Gobert dunk with 1:57 to play in the half, Portland rallied.

Utah led to 53-49 at the break.

In the second half, the Jazz came out on fire, jumping out to an 83-61 lead following a Rudy Gay three-pointer with 4:33 to play in the third quarter. But once again, Portland rallied and cut the deficit to 10 heading to the fourth.

Utah found its rhythm in the final 12 minutes, leading by as many as 24 points in pulling away for the win.

“Obviously I don’t care whether I start or not. … I enjoy my role,” Ingles said. “I think regardless of what I shoot or defend or whatever, I think my best attribute is to get my teammates involved. I don’t know why you would blitz me because I’m a pass-first guy. … I can’t think of anything better than to pass the ball, especially to Rudy (Gobert) to keep him happy.”

Clarkson and Gay finished with 22 and 14 points, respectively, leading a solid bench effort in which the Jazz got 49 points from their reserves. Starting in place of the injured Royce O’Neale, Ingles added 14 points and six assists, while Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 13 points and four rebounds.

McCollum finished with 19 points while Lillard added 11, as they combined to shoot 11-for-29 from the field.

Utah has the next three days off before hosting Boston on Friday, Dec. 3, their final game before a four-game road trip.

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