Memphis, Tenn. • The Jazz have fallen to the Memphis Grizzlies twice already in this young season, and the biggest thing they’re doing to find success is stopping Rudy Gobert from rolling to the rim by packing the paint.
It’s working: Gobert’s two lowest scoring games of the year are against Memphis, picking up nine points in one contest and 11 in the other. For the season, though, Gobert is averaging 16.4 points per game, and 18.8 points in the Jazz’s wins.
But the solution for the Jazz’s woes against Memphis isn’t to try to force the ball into Gobert, it’s to use Gobert’s gravity to get open shots for everybody else.
“It’s about what the game provides. If someone wants to guard Joe Ingles with two guys, he’s probably not going to get as many shots,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder joked. “In Rudy’s case, if they have five guys in the paint, he’s not going to get as many attempts. Rudy doing his job is sometimes for him to score, and other times it’s for other guys to get space.”
JAZZ AT GRIZZLIES
When • Monday, 6 p.m. MST
TV • ATTSN
Some players might quibble with that in order to preserve their averages, but Gobert is on board with the plan.
“I don’t think they can stop everything. If they really want to stop me from rolling, my team is going to be open, and it’s on us to get the good shots,” Gobert said.
Dante Exum’s role
Dante Exum played only 2 minutes and 47 seconds against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, but he made it an eventful stretch.
In that time, Exum airballed a three, missed a layup, turned the ball over, and didn’t go after a loose ball that he thought would be Jazz possession but ended up being Boston’s. Exum was subbed out before the end of the first quarter and didn’t see the court again. In the second half, in Exum’s place, the Jazz played heavier minutes with Alec Burks and Royce O’Neale as the Jazz’s backup guards together, playing without a point guard.
Exum knows that he’ll have to do better to keep his minutes on the court.
“I was on the court before practice, getting up extra shots, just doing what I can to be ready for the next game,” Exum said. “I talked to coach and we had a good discussion about it. I’ll be ready next time to go back in. It’s just between us. I’ll be better when I come back in.”
The franchise still considers Exum to be a big part of its future, and of course, signed him to a new 3-year deal this offseason.