Gobert's Dominance Leads Utah In Rout

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

All good things must come to an end.

But for the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, that wasn't the case when it came to winning.

Thanks to a dominant effort by centers Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside, Utah stayed perfect on its east coast road trip with a 118-96 victory over Philadelphia.

"I think a big part of the game for us was not fouling, just trusting each other," head coach Quin Snyder said postgame. "We can point and talk about those two guys (Gobert and Whiteside), but I felt like it was the rest of our group defensively that I was impressed with."

Gobert came into the highly-publicized matchup against one of his most formidable opponents: All-NBA center Joel Embiid, the heart and soul of the 76ers.

While the battles between Gobert and Embiid have always been entertaining, the stats have sometimes been misleading.

Embiid, the central part of Philadelphia's plan on both ends of the court, had always gotten the better of Gobert when it came to the box score. But in the stats that matter most — wins and +/- rating — there's no doubt who has had more of a positive impact in the game.

The stats weren't misleading on Thursday night.

After words were said regarding Gobert by a pair of Minnesota players following Utah's 32-point victory Wednesday night, Gobert came out like he had a point to prove.

Although later stating he had nothing to prove to anyone, he finished with his 19th double-double of the season in a sensational effort on both ends of the court. He finished with 17 points, 21 rebounds, and two blocks, totaling a game-high +17 on the night. "Obviously I don't take shots on anyone, I just focus on myself," Gobert said when asked about the Minnesota comments. "Obviously when you're the best in the world at something, people become insecure and try to discredit what you do in some kind of ways."

After missing the past two games with a left glute contusion, Whiteside made his presence felt in a huge way.

He feasted on Philadelphia in the paint, showcasing a smooth offensive game that paired well with his knack for rebounding. Whiteside finished with his second double-double of the season, dropping 14 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks in just 15 minutes of action.

"For me personally, I just felt like I was feeling better as far as coming off my glute injury," Whiteside said. "I just felt better coming in. I just watched the way the rest of the game played out."

For the second game in a row, a second-half surge led to a victory.

Utah outscored the 76ers by 15 over the final 24 minutes, mainly because of Whiteside's 12 points in the third quarter and Gobert's 14 total rebounds.

More than those two, though, it was Utah's defensive effort as a whole that held Philadelphia to 42 points in the second half. The 76ers shot 40.5% from the floor and 20% from beyond the arc, being outrebounded by 12.

The Jazz played well in the first quarter but had trouble containing Embiid. The big man got loose for 11 points as Utah found itself trailing 32-27 after one.

Utah stormed back in the second quarter after 15 combined points from Donovan Mitchell and Gobert. But more impressively, the Jazz held Philadelphia to 33% shooting to take a 61-54 lead at the half.

Mitchell saw his steak of consecutive games with 30 points ending at four, but he managed a game-high 22 points and six assists. Bojan Bogdanovic added 14 points, while Mike Conley finished with 10 points and four assists.

Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson continued to do their damage off the bench. Ingles finished with 11 points, seven assists, and a +13 rating, while Clarkson added 11 points, four rebounds, and a +14 rating. Rudy Gay finished with 10 points and six rebounds, giving the Jazz eight scorers in double figures.

Embiid, largely held in check, still managed 19 points, nine rebounds, three steals, and two assists, while Seth Curry finished with 18 points.

Utah will close out its four-game road trip when they face Washington on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. MST.