SALT LAKE CITY -- Everyone already knows how fearsome Rudy Gobert is on defense. Gobert is quietly transforming into an equally intimidating force on offense. The Utah Jazz center made a major statement over four quarters in leading his team to a 108-101 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. Gobert scored a career high 35 points on a career-best 13-of-14 shooting. He tied a season high with 11 offensive rebounds and finished with 13 total boards for his 50th double-double of the season. He added an exclamation point, defensively, by tallying four blocked shots. Utah needed everything it could get from Gobert to outlast the Knicks. "If he doesn't play that way, we don't win," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. Gobert has experienced a distinct blossoming on offense in his fourth NBA season. Hours of hard work and film study, coupled with improved strength and balance, have turned him into a monster around the basket on both ends. Once Gobert gets going, good luck stopping him. "The biggest thing is his hands have improved," Utah forward Gordon Hayward said. "He's been able to catch the ball in traffic. His pivots have improved. He's so big, if you don't foul him, he's going to dunk it. And then from the free-throw line too, he's gotten a lot better. Those are areas where he's improved and taken it up a notch." Hayward chipped in 19 points and George Hill added 15 to complement Gobert's outburst. Utah (44-28) snapped a three-game losing streak. Kristaps Porzingis scored 24 points while Derrick Rose added 17 points and Carmelo Anthony chipped in 16 to lead the Knicks. New York (27-44) led the entire first half but faltered down the stretch for the team's eighth loss in 10 games. It didn't help matters that Rose injured his foot in the fourth quarter and played just three minutes before coming out of the game for good. "I felt like I couldn't get past anyone, so there was no point being out there," Rose said. The teams traded baskets in the fourth quarter until Utah finally pulled away behind an 11-0 run. Hayward hit a go-ahead jumper to spark the decisive spurt, and Gobert and Hill finished it off with back-to-back layups to give the Jazz a 98-87 lead with 3:11 left. New York cut it to 98-92 on a 3-pointer from Lee. The Knicks never got closer after Gobert tipped in his final basket with 1:52 remaining. "That's really the only time we started to play defense," Gobert said. "We started the game pretty slow. We let them get going and then we kind of were chasing the score all game. Our defense got better and better throughout the game, and we were able to get big stops at the end." Utah opened the first quarter by missing six consecutive shots before Rodney Hood finally broke the ice with a jumper. The Knicks, on the other hand, couldn't miss early. New York shot 59 percent in the first quarter. The Knicks jumped out to a 16-6 lead behind back-to-back 3-pointers from Porzingis. New York extended its lead to 27-15 later in the quarter after Anthony's jumper capped a string of baskets on three straight possessions. Utah trailed throughout the first half but finally trimmed away the bulk of New York's advantage just before halftime behind Gobert's efforts. Gobert capped the half with a pair of dunks -- the second one coming off his stolen pass from Courtney Lee -- to bring the Jazz to within 55-51. He totaled 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting by halftime. The Knicks had no idea of what to do with Gobert. "You can't think that you are just going to semi box him out," New York coach Jeff Hornacek said. "He's going to reach over the top of you. He's long. He's strong. You've got to crack him. You've got to hit him hard. We just didn't do that." With Gobert providing the initial spark, Utah finally overtook New York in the third quarter. The Jazz took their first lead of the game at 65-63 on a reverse layup from Raul Neto. Neto buried a 3-pointer a short time later to extend Utah's advantage to 72-67. New York charged back in front before quarter's end. The Knicks closed out the third quarter on an 8-0 run, punctuated by a 3-pointer from Justin Holiday, to reclaim a 75-72 lead. NOTES: Utah honored its 1996-97 Western Conference Championship team during halftime. The Jazz won their first conference championship that season, defeating the Houston Rockets in six games. Utah eventually lost in six games to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals. That Jazz team was led by Karl Malone, John Stockton and current Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek. ... New York outrebounded Utah 24-18 in the first half but collected just 12 rebounds to Utah's 28 after halftime. ... Jazz C Rudy Gobert recorded a blocked shot for the 40th consecutive game. He is just the second NBA player since the 2013-14 season to accomplish the feat. ... Knicks F Carmelo Anthony and G Derrick Rose combined for just 10 second-half points after both players reached double figures by halftime.
Gobert's 35 lead Jazz past Knicks
The Sports Xchange | Mar 23