Chris Paul on Rudy Gobert: 'He can play, but he just talks a lot'

Chris Paul on Rudy Gobert: 'He can play, but he just talks a lot'

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Although it’s not a certainty that the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers will face each other in the first round of the playoffs, that matchup seems like a good possibility with a month left in the regular season.

Know what else it seems like?

A highly entertaining series.

That is if the two teams play like they did Monday night when the Jazz clawed their way out of a nine-point deficit to earn a 114-108 win at Vivint Arena.

Not only was the action at a high level, but the drama was, too.

“It’s going to be a physical series, a hostile series,” Clippers guard Austin Rivers said when asked about the potential matchup. “They’re a really good team. They got good players. I would imagine it would be a physical, really physical series.”

Monday’s game then was just a nice appetizer, and it wasn’t just the big guys who were feisty. Both JJ Redick and Chris Paul had run-ins with Jazz center Rudy Gobert, resulting in technical fouls for The Stifle Tower (for a high forearm to Redick’s face early in the fourth quarter) and for CP3 (for extending his arms on a screen and then pushing the 7-foot-1 French in the back in the closing moments).

“He got into me. I didn’t even know I had touched him,” Gobert said of hitting Redick, which irritated the Clippers. The Jazz center said he was simply trying to set a screen when his elbow caught the guard and added, “I wasn’t trying to.”

“It was just a little tussle,” Paul said about his run-in with Gobert. “I’m not worried about him. He can play, but he just talks a lot.”

File that in the “Takes a talker to know a talker” category. Paul just has a different accent (and people might understand him better) than the fourth-year Jazz big.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder rushed to the opposite end of the court to usher Gobert away from Paul and the Clippers after the final confrontation, which happened as Utah veteran Joe Johnson hit a game-clinching corner 3.

The Clippers didn’t appreciate Gobert’s antics, which reportedly included his pointing at the scoreboard. If that indeed happened, it might not have been the smartest move by a Jazz player, considering Utah had lost nine straight at home to the Clippers and 16 of 17 overall.

Snyder would prefer if Gobert did a better job of channeling his competitiveness.

“Games can get chippy when teams are competing,” Snyder said. “I didn’t see the play. I would always like for Rudy to play clean and to play tough and let your game do the talking.”

That’s not to say the Jazz coach didn’t have his big man’s back, because he did just that.

“I also really believe in Rudy’s competitiveness. I don’t want to stifle that in any way,” Snyder said, “but I also want him to be smart and play the game with respect for the opponent. There’s guys on that team that are worthy of that respect, but that that doesn’t mean Rudy can’t compete. You can do both, and that’s what I want to see from him.”

Rivers believes both teams would embrace a first-round encounter. That will happen if things stand pat, as Utah (42-25) currently holds the No. 4 spot by two full games and L.A. (40-27) is ahead of sixth-place Oklahoma City (38-29) by two games heading into the home stretch.

“I think they’re looking forward to it. We’re looking forward to it,” Rivers said. “We still got 15 games left, so who knows, but most likely I guess … we’re going to play them, so we’ll have to be ready for that.”

First things, first.

The Jazz have a tough road ahead of them to hold onto home-court advantage in their first playoff appearance since 2012. They begin a four-game swing Wednesday night in their final appearance at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons are moving to an arena with the Red Wings in downtown Detroit next year.

Snyder isn’t satisfied with one win over the Clippers seeing how 15 games still remain on the schedule and nothing is set in stone, including a playoff berth.

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“We haven’t done anything yet. We won a game (Monday). There’s a lot more games. We’ve got to play a lot more as a team. Hopefully we can grow from this,” Snyder said. “I’m proud of our guys. I’m happy about the game.”

Snyder said he was asked if Monday’s game was significant, all things considered.

“Win or lose, I think it can be significant,” he said. “In both cases, we have to move forward and that’s what we need to do. I feel good about how we played and how we competed, and then (let’s) get on the airplane (Tuesday) and go to Detroit.”

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Published at Wed, 15 Mar 2017 05:34:00 +0000