The veteran guard questions the Jazz’s overall talent level, and both players take a shot at the three-time Defensive Player of the Year’s impact.
Minneapolis • The Utah Jazz lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves all three times the teams faced off a year ago, so Wednesday’s matchup at the Target Center — their first meeting of this season — was certainly on their radar.
And after the Jazz pulled off a 136-104 victory, they were feeling good about getting an impressive win against what they said was an impressive opponent.
Some of the Wolves, on the other hand, apparently did not share the sentiment.
Mercurial guard Patrick Beverley, who appeared agitated for much of the evening — particularly after receiving a second-quarter technical foul for taunting, and as he was held in check during the second half as the game spiraled out of control — took some shots after the game at Utah.
He started off complimentary of the Jazz, but then quickly devolved into getting in a dig.
“They’re a good team. Always a top-three team in the West, always well-coached, great system, great players,” he said, before pausing, shrugging a bit and then quickly amending the latter: “Solid players.”
He later took issue with Utah’s strategy of not always matching Rudy Gobert straight-up against former All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns, but instead frequently deploying the three-time Defensive Player of the Year against Jarred Vanderbilt — who was acting as a spot-up corner shooter — and thus allowing the Frenchman to rotate into the paint as a weakside help defender.
“I mean, I don’t know. It’s a great gameplan by the coach and his coaching staff. But if I’m Defensive Player of the Year, I’m always guarding the best player no matter what. I’m not roaming,” Beverley told reporters. “It’s no discredit to Royce O’Neale or any of the others on their team, but if I’m Defensive Player of the Year, I’m not guarding Royce O’Neale — I’m guarding Mike Conley, I’m guarding Donovan Mitchell, I’m guarding [Bojan] Bogdanovic. You got Rudy Gobert out there guarding Vanderbilt. And every time, I hear he’s Defensive Player of the Year. So, uh, whatever.”
Second-year wing Anthony Edwards hopped on the anti-Gobert bandwagon, as well.
Asked about the challenge of going up against the celebrated DPOY, Edwards said that Gobert was, in fact, a far inferior rim protector to the Dallas Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis, a player not really known as being much of a rim protector at all.
“To me, the best rim-protector in the league is Porzingis. Anytime I go against Porzingis, I don’t get any layups,” Edwards said. “I don’t get why we couldn’t finish on Rudy Gobert. He don’t put no fear in my heart.”
Whatever the reason, the Wolves indeed could not efficiently get buckets inside against the Jazz on Wednesday. Minnesota was just 10 for 24 at the rim (41.7%) and 18 for 41 overall in the paint (43.9%).
For comparative purposes, the Jazz shot better from 3-point range (46.3%) than the Wolves did from close range.
Regardless, Edwards said whatever impact Gobert had against Minnesota was more due to reputation than actual production.
“I think he was in people’s heads. He wasn’t even blocking shots,” he said. “I was telling people, ‘He’s the same as anybody else.’”