A chain reaction Monday at EnergySolutions Arena resulted in the busiest night of Rudy Gobert’s career.
With Derrick Favors sidelined for the fifth time in the last seven games with a hip injury, the Jazz needed a big performance from Enes Kanter.
With Kanter struggling, however, coach Tyrone Corbin turned to Gobert.
The 7-foot-1 rookie ended up playing a career-high 31 minutes — 11 more than Kanter — during Toronto’s 94-79 victory over the Jazz.
“I thought Rudy did a better of controlling the paint for us,” Corbin explained after Utah dropped its third straight game.
For Gobert, his 31 minutes marked only the fourth time he’s played over 20 this season. It was four more than his previous high of 27, which he played during a 98-72 blowout loss at Minnesota on Jan. 18.
Significantly, Kanter played only 5:29 in the second half. He watched the final three minutes from the bench.
Kanter finished with 10 points, but he grabbed only three rebounds. He also had trouble stopping Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas, especially early in the game.
Valanciunas scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half, when Kanter played 14 minutes.
“Whatever it was, I didn’t think Enes had the energy,” Corbin said. “... Valanciunas got going early on him and [on offense] we weren’t able to get the ball where he wanted it.”
Corbin continued: “I understand some of the things he is going through. He’s tired also. And there’s a lot of pressure on him. He puts pressure on himself to play well and it’s a process. But you have to fight your way through it.”
Asked if this was the most disappointed he’s been in Kanter this season, Corbin shook his head.
“I’m not disappointed in him,” he said. “I want him to have more success, but we won’t quit on anybody here. We’ll push him to get better — talk to him about the things he needs to do to get better and the energy he needs to bring. And he’ll respond.”
Kanter’s exit 2:32 into the second came after Toronto’s DeMar Rozan drove and dunked without opposition.
Gobert ended up playing 19 of the game’s final 22 minutes. Although he didn’t score, he grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots.
Gobert “... tried to play hard and he was big inside, which you want,” Corbin said. “He blocked the rim. He held the middle down for us, for the most part. He was in the right spots. Offensively, he didn’t give us much. But I thought he was trying to do the right thing.”
• Rudy Gobert plays a season-high 31 minutes in Toronto’s 94-79 win over the Jazz.
• Gobert plays 19 of the game’s final 22 minutes in place of Enes Kanter.
• Gobert doesn’t score, but he finishes with eight rebounds and three blocks.