SALT LAKE CITY — A flu bug kept Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert from feeling at full strength before tipoff and caused him to vomit in the locker room after the game.
In between, Gobert did everything in his power to dominate the Brooklyn Nets.
Gobert had 23 points and 17 rebounds Saturday in Utah’s 114-98 victory, getting his 55th double-double after feeling sick all day. After the game, Gobert sat down in a chair to rest in front of his locker and promptly vomited.
Gobert, who hasn’t missed a game this season, did not want to have this one be his first on the bench.
“I just tried to give everything I had,” Gobert said. “I knew it was a big game for the team. I haven’t missed a game yet, so I really wanted to (play) unless I was really, really bad and couldn’t get up. I knew the training staff was going to be able to give me a little something to be able to play.”
Donovan Mitchell led Utah with 24 points. Derrick Favors chipped in 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz. Utah won its third straight game while holding Brooklyn to 35 percent shooting and finishing with a 65-44 advantage on rebounds.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 22 points and D’Angelo Russell added 20 for Brooklyn. The Nets dropped their second in a row after winning four straight, despite finishing with a season-low seven turnovers. The Nets dropped their second in a row after winning four straight, and sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, 2½ games ahead of the Heat.
“Defensively, I never felt like we slowed them down,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “They dominated us in every fashion.”
Utah got untracked late in the first quarter after a sluggish start. The Jazz missed eight of their first 10 shots, but then made seven consecutive baskets to surge ahead. Gobert fueled the 17-2 run with a pair of dunks and a layup. Kyle Korver chipped in pair of 3-pointers and the Jazz led 28-21 after one quarter.
Utah opened the second quarter with a 12-2 run to extend its lead to 40-23. Utah eventually led by as many as 20 points before halftime. The Jazz went up 55-35 on back-to-back baskets from Mitchell.
“We locked down the paint,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “They did a heck of a job. There was clarity when guys drove where our bigs were not caught in between trying to necessarily play two. They were able to have clarity and contest shots.”
The Nets took a 19-11 lead on a 3-pointer from Rodions Kurucs but then missed 12 straight shots over a six-minute stretch spanning the first and second quarters. Brooklyn shot 29 percent from the field in the first half.
Russell credited Gobert with throwing off the team’s offensive rhythm.
“A player of that caliber on the defensive end every possession, it’s definitely going to be tough to get what we normally get,” Russell said.
The Jazz built their largest lead in the third quarter after scoring on seven consecutive possessions. Gobert accounted for four baskets and Mitchell had three, including a step-back jumper that finished off the run and gave Utah a 75-49 lead midway through the quarter.
Frustration finally boiled over for the Nets when Dinwiddie picked up a technical foul in the final minute of the quarter.
“That’s what you want,” Mitchell said. “You want to be able to just kind of aggravate teams.”
Before the game, players, coaches, and staff members for the Jazz and the Nets wore T-shirts carrying an anti-racism message. The gray shirts featured an image of black and white hands clasped together. Below the image was a quote from late activist Fred Hampton which read, “You don’t fight racism with racism, you fight racism with solidarity.”
Jazz players came up with the idea following their win over Phoenix on Wednesday night. They were able to order 135 shirts to be printed up in time to wear on Saturday. Mitchell praised the Jazz organization for getting behind the idea and supporting the players.
It is the latest step the Jazz have made to combat racism after a verbal altercation between Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook and a fan earlier in the week that stemmed from a racial taunt directed at Westbrook.
“I’m blessed to be able to play for an owner like (Gail Miller), to go out there and say what she said and stick by it,” Mitchell said. “It’s one thing to say it, but the actions they’ve put toward it is showing that they’re serious about this. We’re all serious about this as well. It’s a blessing to play for an organization that believes so much in what their players say and what they believe.”