In Minneapolis, the Wolves repelled the Heat (105-101) after being up to 15 points behind (41-56, 21st). They took 85 shots… but none from Rudy Gobert, who just attempted (and succeeded) four free throws in 31 minutes of play (4 points, 9 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 blocks). We must go back to December 31, 2014, during a match Utah won against … Minnesota (100-94), to find a match with 0 shots from Picard. And again, he had played half as much (16 minutes).
This is only the 4th time in 674 NBA matches (including play-offs) that Rudy Gobert has not attempted a single shot (or dunk) while playing at least ten minutes.
However, Rudy Gobert played a key role by continuing to be available until the end. His four free throws were all made in the money time (two 1’11” from the end, at 99-99, then two at 9”) of a hotly contested game, each time offering a welcome passing option.
“Everything that had happened before no longer mattered. The only thing that mattered was that there was in front of us. I had to pass them.” relativized the French at the end of this match which, it is true, leaned towards the outside (the Wolves only scored a third of their points in the racket).
Batum and the Clippers bring down Utah
In any case, fierce is the competition in the western conference. Still leading last week, Portland is now sixth, tied with two other teams, after losing three straight. The team that replaced the Blazers in first place, Utah, fell in turn Monday in Los Angeles (121-114), while keeping the lead for 0.7% more victory than Denver and Phoenix.
The Clippers, who are rising to the top of the standings now that they have recovered Kawhi Leonard, even if the latter remains in the run-in (8 points at 4/11), relied on Reggie Jackson (27 points) and Norman Powell (30 points) in the absence of Paul George (hamstrings).
As he always did, Nicholas Batum oiled the wheels off the bench (5 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in 25 minutes). Symbol of his versatility, the Norman replaced the leader Reggie Jackson during his first entry into play then the pivot Ivica Zubac during his second, and finally the rear Terance Mann during his third.
Fournier still unused
There could have been a French duel on Monday, but the rookie Ousmane Dieng was not in the Oklahoma City squad since he was playing at the same time in the G-League with Adam Mokoka (16 points each in a loss of … 49 points, 92-141, in front of less than 1,000 spectators against the Lakers reserve team). And that’Evan Fournier was not used for the fifth straight game in the Knicks’ away win (119-129) with 34 points from Jalen Brunson.