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Utah Jazz’s defense is insulted again, this time by the Clippers’ Marcus Morris

Veteran forward says that aside from Rudy Gobert, “none of them can really defend.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) gets sandwiched by the defense of Reggie Jackson, left, and Marcus Morris in a game between the Utah Jazz and the LA Clippers on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. Morris said after the game that none of the Jazz players other than Rudy Gobert can play any defense.

A week ago, a couple members of the Minnesota Timberwolves took a shot at the defensive credentials of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, suggesting he’s not actually much of a rim-protector and criticizing him for not always guarding the opposing team’s best scorer 1-on-1.

On Wednesday night, following yet another blowout victory by the Jazz, they once again found their defense the focal point of an opponent’s scorn. This time, though, the Clippers’ Marcus Morris went the other direction and suggested that Gobert is actually the only one on Utah’s roster capable of guarding someone.

A reporter noted after Utah’s 124-103 victory that L.A. only got 14 shots at the rim, and asked Morris if, because of the presence of Gobert, the Clippers went in resigned to the idea that they’d have to mostly have to take advantage of looks in the midrange and from beyond the arc.

And then the veteran forward got in his dig, referencing the teams’ most recent playoff matchup to drive home his point.

“For sure. Six-game [playoff] series back in whenever the s--- that was — yeah, they’re still the same team. Ain’t nothing changed,” Morris said. “He protects all of them. None of them can really defend. Just funnel it to him. And it’s tough — he’s a great player, and he does a great job of anticipation, staying down, being real solid. So you know who they are.”

Most of the Jazz’s postgame contingent had already addressed the media by the time Morris’s comments became public. But Donovan Mitchell — who’s earned some praise this season for being a more active and willing perimeter defender — still had yet to speak.

When apprised of the critique, the All-Star guard initially had the look of a man trying to restrain himself from expressing his true thoughts. Ultimately, he took the high road, noting that the Jazz simply are going to have to earn some postseason success in order to quiet their critics.

“Well, I won’t address that [specific comment]. Look, at the end of the day … Rudy said it best: ‘They want to go ahead and say stuff, they can say it.’ We just have to go out there and prove it,” Mitchell said. “Like I’ve said to you guys before, we’ve done a lot well in the regular season, we’ve been a pretty solid team, now we’ve got got to go out there and prove it. And then this will stop.

“It happened to Milwaukee, I think, a few years ago, similar stuff,” he added. “At the end of the day, look, we’ve got to go out there and just do it. We can’t look and say, ‘Why are people doing this?’ If they want to say it, they can say it. I don’t think any of us really care. It’s just a matter of now we’ve just got to go out there and prove it when it’s time; continue to build upon the regular season, continue to win, continue to build good habits, and when it comes time, it’s time. I think we have the group to do it and we’ve got to go out there and show it.”


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