The Triple Team: Rudy Gobert’s 9-block performance powers Jazz to an easy win over Bulls

Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 120-95 win over the Chicago Bulls from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.

1. Rudy Gobert’s 9 blocks almost gets that elusive triple-double

I remember when I was growing up as a young basketball fan in the 2000s being astounded by Mark Eaton’s block numbers. He got 5.6 blocks per game? How was that even possible?

And then I watched film of his games and I realized: “Oh. How many blocks you get is in direct correlation with how many times the opponent attacks you unwisely.” I’m not trying to take away from Eaton’s accomplishments, but Eaton wasn’t exactly a mobile big man — if he was going to block a shot, the opponent would have to try to shoot with him around.

Fast forward to Monday night. Before the game, Stacey King, the Bulls color commentator, gave his keys to the game.

“Don’t fall in love with threes, and the reason why I say that is because Rudy Gobert is in the middle. You cannot be afraid to take it to him and attack him in the paint. If you don’t attack him, it’s going to be a long night.”


Rudy Gobert ended up with a career high nine blocks on Monday night, absolutely owning the painted area on his way to leading the Jazz to an easy win. When the Bulls repeatedly dared venture into the paint, Gobert was going to be there, ready for the rejection.

This is remarkably unwise, Zach LaVine.

But Gobert also showed his defensive versatility, too. Here, he drops in pick and roll, before chasing Coby White to the perimeter for a block.

It’s something that national analysts have picked up, too. Gobert’s not only the league’s best defender — but he might be getting better.

It’s a shame that Gobert didn’t get his 10th block — he actually did block a 10th one, but the shot in question went in the basket, rendering the block null and void. But that only serves as perhaps the wackiest way that the Jazz’s legendary triple-double drought has continued. I thought that a Gobert 10 blocks game would be a worthy end to the streak, but no such luck.

He’s such a treat to watch, though. In my opinion, he’s one of the most fun players to watch in the NBA, because he’s such a savant at everything defensively and yet has such a goofy skillset at everything else. He’s also remarkably effective, and at this moment in time, that max extension he signed looks like a great deal for both sides right now.

2. Joe Ingles’ ridiculous shooting

Joe Ingles is now officially shooting 50% from 3-point range on the year. That’s pretty good! In fact, here’s the list of players who have shot 50% from three in a season while getting at least 200 attempts up (Ingles has 209 right now):

Steve Kerr, Tim Legler, and Jason Kapono.

Now, it is more likely than not that Ingles will not shoot 50% from three for the rest of the year, and he won’t qualify for this list either. But, that Ingles has his name in this discussion is impressive: those three were all outright shooters, while Ingles has a bit more to his game in terms of playmaking. (I suppose Kerr did too, but in a very different way than Ingles’ pick-and-roll mastery.)

But I want to highlight something in particular: how Ingles has different shot releases, depending on the situation. This one is his standard one; watch how when he catches the ball, he dips the ball a little bit lower, so that he can get power behind it for the shot.

He also has this one, though: the quick release three.

You can hear Stacey King say “Oh, wow” at Ingles’ shot form there. It’s something else: he doesn’t ever need to dip the ball lower, he just rises and fires from wherever he catches it.

Ingles had time to dip if he needed to on that last one, but sometimes, having the quick release lets him gets off shots that he otherwise wouldn’t. Watch this one!

“When I first got in the NBA, I used to catch it, bring the ball down to my shins and then go back up and shoot it,” Ingles said. “And I quickly realized that a 6-8 athletic guy was going to smack it into row zed by the time I shot it.”

That’s the thing: if Ingles is this terrific of a shooter with that quick of a release, then he *can* take a three nearly every time someone passes it to him. And at 50%, he probably should.

Some shooters are just trying to get one steady rhythm for their jump shot — I certainly am. Ingles has multiple speeds of release, and they’re all effective.

3. Bogdanovic helping on D

Look, Bojan Bogdanovic can’t figure it out on offense right now. While we’ve complained about the turnovers before, the biggest issue is that he’s missing a lot of the shots that he usually makes: threes and mid-rangers. He’s also not drawing fouls as frequently, perhaps due to the reek of desperation he clearly has on the offensive end that the refs can detect.

And at times, his defense has been problematic as well. But I thought that tonight, he was actually quite good on that end, helping the Jazz to defend while they were putting a lot of defensive attention on LaVine.

Take a look at these two nearly consecutive possessions in the 2Q. The Jazz are having Derrick Favors step up on LaVine around the 3-point line, because they don’t want him taking pull-up threes, one of the Bulls’ most explosive forms of offense. But that means the roll man is open, so Bogdanovic slides down and forces a miss from Wendell Carter Jr.

On this one, they more explicitly involve Bogdanovic in a double screen, but while Favors is held up, Bogdanovic actually executes his defensive duties well, again forcing a miss down low but this time from LaVine himself.

By now, I’ve talked to a lot of players who are going through slumps. And one of the most common slump cures they tell me is to just focus on the effort elements of basketball first — like making great rotations. If you can start nailing those, then it’s easier to find confidence in the offensive parts of your game. It also probably helps your team get easier shots, too!

I think Bogdanovic will be fine, though I acknowledge that he is 31 years old now, and this could be a new, age-related decline. But I think he’ll be able to play himself into a role that really helps the Jazz by the playoffs. It could be as the 20 point-per-game scorer he was last season, but I think a more deferential role is a bit more likely.