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“I feel like something happened in our team” |  The return of Gobert, a resounding success

Heading into Monday’s game against Houston, the Jazz had played some of their best basketballs of the season so far, earning them a five-game winning streak.

It wasn’t just the wins, however. That’s how Utah got the results – dominant defense, efficient offense and energy/agitation.

While the win over the Rockets was more or less the same, there was a big difference. The return of big star man Rudy Gobert brought a different energy and vibe to the team, resulting in a 135-101 win over Houston.

“We just decided to focus only on the most essential and important thing, as well as the simpler things like simple backtracking or communication,” Gobert said after the game. “It was very fun to watch.”

Here are five things to know after the win:

1.) Rudy Gobert makes a triumphant return
After missing nine games with a left calf injury, Gobert returned to the field – and it didn’t take long for the three-time defender of the year to make his presence felt.

On Utah’s second possession, fellow All-Star Donovan Mitchell found Gobert under the hoop with a no-look pass. The three-time All-Star took care of it from there, throwing a thunderous two-handed dunk to ignite the Vivint crowd early on.

Overall, it was a good night for Gobert, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds. Although those numbers were significantly lower than his season averages, his dominance on the pitch was still there as he finished with a +20 rating in just 22 minutes.

“He did what he does for us. … Good to see him again,” head coach Quin Snyder said of Gobert.

Aside from the dunk, Gobert got off to a slow start while getting back into shape, with Snyder even noting that the big man looked a little tired in the first half. But Gobert caught his second breath and was phenomenal as the game went on, finishing with eight points and four rebounds in the second half.

Much more will be expected of Gobert in the coming months, but the fact that his comeback was successful is why there is a lot of optimism in the Mountain West right now.

“I felt strong, I feel good,” Gobert said. “I did some pretty explosive movements without thinking about it. I didn’t have any additional pain.”

2.) Donovan Mitchell keeps tearing it up
While Gobert is still recovering from the injury, Mitchell is ready to go after suffering a concussion and missing eight games. In his fifth game back, he dropped a game-high 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 5-of-9 from three-point territory.

While the numbers were good, what was most impressive was how Mitchell continued to elevate his game in areas other than scoring. His vision of the pitch has improved dramatically and he sees the game differently, able to quickly diagnose defenses and take advantage of clashes anywhere on the pitch.

Since returning, Mitchell has played at an all-NBA level. It has similar numbers to what it was before the concussion, but its efficiency has improved significantly, just like the Jazz.

In February, he is averaging 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists on 51.5% shooting from the floor, 45.7% from outside the arc and 86% from outside the arc. the free throw line. He is also averaging +15 in 31.6 minutes per game.

With Gobert expected to be fully healthy after the All-Star break and Mitchell playing some of his best basketball of the season, there’s a reason these two will be a force to be reckoned with come April, May. and June.

3.) Mike Conley dominates despite two points
Snyder has pointed that out multiple times this season. Mike Conley doesn’t need to score points to completely take control of a basketball game, and Monday night was another demonstration of that.

It’s rare for a player to completely dominate a game despite shooting just 1-for-8 (0-for-6 from deep), but that’s what Conley did against the Rockets. Although he finished with just two points, he had 10 assists, four steals, three rebounds and a +18 rating in 23 minutes.

One of the league’s best shooters — the No. 10 entering Monday night with three-point percentage — there won’t be many nights when Conley struggles from the floor. But whatever his shot, his ability to create and execute the attack with such high efficiency paves the way for many others to thrive.

Whether it’s the pick-and-roll with Gobert, getting into the paint to kick an open shooter, or dictating the move to find the lag, it’s arguable that Conley is key of Utah’s success. More often than not, when Conley plays well, regardless of the points, the Jazz look almost unbeatable — and Houston found that out the hard way.

“I think it’s really important for the whole team to know that you have the ability to impact the game even if you don’t score,” Snyder said. “It’s easy to get caught up in scoring as the only contribution to the game. … But when it’s not going well, what can you do to help the team win? Mike’s play tonight has him show.”

4.) Bench blasts Houston with impressive performances
The 135 points scored by the Jazz on Monday night was the most points they’ve scored in just over two months.

While the starters played a big part in this, combining for 75 points, the bench carried the knockout blows in the win. Four players scored in double figures dropping 60 points on the night as a unit.

While these stats are impressive, the way the Utah bench has handled its affairs has proven most impressive. The Jazz didn’t just score, they defended, rebounded, blocked shots and played hard against the Rockets in every facet of the game.

Hassan Whiteside led the dominating effort with 11 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Jordan Clarkson added 16 points and a team-best +25 in 26 minutes, while Eric Paschall and Udoka Azubuike added 12 and 10 points.

With 10 total players playing at least 12 minutes on the night, Utah looks like the team many imagined going into the season.

5.) Good Energy, Good Vibes
Much has been written about Utah’s struggles in January and their current redemption tour in February.

But as mentioned at the beginning of the article, the most significant changes have been simple: dominant defense, efficient offense and better energy/agitation. After missing nine games amid a brutal losing streak, Gobert has noticed the changes within the squad now that he’s back on the pitch.

“Our energy is different,” Gobert said. “I feel like something happened within our team. … This crisis really sparked something. I feel like we’re a team trying to achieve something.”

He’s not wrong.

It’s a very different team than they played in January, and a lot of that change is due to the responsibility Utah has taken on in the locker room. Rather than sulking, blaming or fighting, the Jazz attacked the issues head-on and collectively – and the result was magnificent.

“That’s how you build those winning habits,” Mitchell said. “And I can’t say they were there earlier in the year. Now we’re all holding each other accountable and communicating, and that gets us to that milestone.”



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