The Utah Jazz have quietly been a very solid team in the Western Conference this season, compiling a 44-29 record.
However, it appears as though the story might be a tad bit different behind the scenes.
After Saturday’s 108-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Jazz center Rudy Gobert spoke out against unspecified teammates in some scathing remarks to reporters.
“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is,” he said.
He continued, ”Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”
The Jazz lost their fourth game in their last five and in what might end up being a decisive game in deciding playoff seeding, they came out flat, trailing by 14 points after the first quarter.
Gobert added the following, which called for his teammates to sacrifice personal stats:
“I think everybody needs to think about making plays for the team, making winning plays, before thinking about how many points we’re going to score and stuff like that,” Gobert said. “Everybody has to be ready to sacrifice. In the playoffs, it’s not going to be pretty. There’s going to be some games where you don’t score. But are you going to take a charge for a teammate? Are you going to come and box out DeAndre [Jordan] for a teammate?”
He added, ”It works with all of us. And we do it, we do it, but we do it by stretches. We need to do it right from the beginning of the game. I think when we do that, we’re very, very, very good.”
Those are pretty serious accusations and overall harsh words coming at this point in the season.
In the loss, Gobert had 26 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. Therefore, he did his part. Averaging 13.5 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per contest, he has been a dominant force in the paint all season long for Utah.
For what seemed like a cohesive team based on their success and prowess on the defensive side of their ball (as they’re arguably the best defensive team in the NBA), Gobert’s words came as a complete shock and called into question whether or not the team has the chemistry necessary to make a run in the postseason.
We will see how his words affect his teammates in their next game, which will come against Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night. The first quarter in that game will tell us a lot.