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Jazz: No surprise, Rudy Gobert ruled out for Game 3

First Published      Last Updated Apr 20 2017 11:09 pm

Jazz notebook » Center was injured 11 seconds into Game 1.

The Utah Jazz will be forced to defend the Los Angeles Clippers' powerful frontcourt without star center Rudy Gobert on Friday night for the third consecutive game.

Gobert's hyperextended knee has not sufficiently healed for him to participate in Game 3 at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The injury was sustained 11 seconds into Saturday's Game 1 in California.

The Jazz were able to win Game 1 at the buzzer, but Gobert's absence was noticeable in Game 2 as the Clippers scored 60 points in the paint during a 99-91 victory that tied the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

"Rudy's not going to walk through that door right now," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "So whatever adjustments that we make, it's not going to replicate what Rudy gave us. That's a personnel issue. There are things we can do differently, but not on the level that Rudy did. We can still be better in a lot of ways."

Gobert is making progress in his rehabilitation. He is walking without a limp or crutches, and has progressed to working out on exercise machines. He also is able to shoot free throws at team practices.

But the Jazz have decided that Gobert will not play until there is no chance of reinjuring his knee, which may take some time.

"We aren't going to put him in a situation where by playing, it could compromise his long-term health," Snyder said.

In Gobert's stead, Jazz forward Derrick Favors has been given an expanded role at center. Favors, who has battled injuries all season, said he feels good, but still doesn't have his normal lift off the ground.

Snyder said Favors is fighting through fatigue after he played 33 minutes in Game 2, the most action he has seen since playing 34 minutes on March 3 in a win over the Brooklyn Nets.

"He's trying to raise his level," Snyder said. "He's different than Rudy, so we have to play to his strengths. He's on the floor exclusively at center for 35 minutes, and that hasn't happened this year. So this is new to him."

Finding Hayward some space

Freeing Gordon Hayward is one of Friday's biggest priorities for the Jazz, as his offense and efficiency are hot topics. Hayward scored 20 points in Game 2, the first 20-point game of his postseason career, but he did not have a good shooting night.

One way his teammates can help out is making more open shots, thus creating extra space for Hayward. In the Game 2 loss, Rodney Hood finished 3-of-7 shooting, and George Hill was 2 of 6 from 3-point range. Joe Johnson, Game 1's hero, missed all four of his 3-pointers.

Only Joe Ingles, who was 2 of 3 on 3-pointers, shot particulary well in Game 2.

"We're not going to turn shots down," Ingles said. "Whether we make them or miss them, defensively is where we make our money and that's why we're a good team. Nobody is out there trying to miss. We'll make them. We're confident in whoever on our team takes those shots."

The Clippers are defending Hayward with the idea of making others beat them. In Game 1, that happened as Johnson caught fire from mid-range, made several 3-pointers and hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer. In Game 2, Utah went 10 of 25 from 3-point range, missing several open looks.

"If you have an open shot, we want you to take it," Snyder said. "Because it could be the best shot of that particular possession. We feel for us to be at our best, Gordon has to get attempts. I'm confident that many of those will be good shots. I feel the same with Rodney and George. We want all of those guys to be aggressive."

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