SALT LAKE CITY – Rudy Gobert was fouled from behind when he had a clear path to the basket. Joe Ingles threw a praise that was even too high for the big center. With a quick break led by Gobert he ended again in the free throw line.
In Utah's victory over Phoenix, there were several early successes that made Gobert look as if he would be dismissed for setting up a new NBA record for dunks in just one season. But at some point the moment came. It was the kind of game that made Gobert get so many lightweight buckets this season.
Donovan Mitchell threw a punch at Gobert, who caught him near the edge and scooped him up for his record-breaking 270th place dunk of the season (dunks were only recorded since 2000). Then he added his 271
And these dunks are not passed accident. There's a reason why Gobert has set the benchmark this season – something the jazz coach's coaches noticed in the summer.
"We felt that we could get more high passes for Rudy and Fave (Derrick Favors)," said jazz coach Quin Snyder. "And these people usually make that dunk. Some movie studies on that and some comps with different guys in the league and we found out there was room there.
He told his bigs to work on their hands and get ready. He told his guards to work on their floaters – something that can be used not only as a shot, but also as a pass. And then he brought them together to master the art of the high pass.
Most of the player developments in jazz revolve around individual work and one-on-one discussions with coaches. This had to be something different. The guards and the big ones had to develop chemistry with each other.
"We started to do more combination work," Snyder said. "It's one thing to throw a passport and another for a big one to work on something – something that requires that level of connectivity, they have to do it together. Our boys hugged it. I think they have realized that this is something that could help our team. "
And it's not just a guard ready to throw the butt. Mitchell does it. Ricky Rubio does it. Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder, Royce O'Neale etc. It has become one of the main causes of the improving offense of jazz (the jazz has the fifth best offensive rating since the All-Star break).
And it's something that Gobert, who Obviously enjoyed it often, rather than a defensive threat than an offensive threat.
"I can get the ball where nobody else gets it," said Gobert. "It's a pretty smart game. It's an efficient game. They (the Jazzgarden) did the work, I put them to work, and it paid off.
It's also a piece that has the approval of jazz legend John Stockton. At the beginning of this year, Snyder and Stockton joked about the hole pass as Snyder reminds Stockton, "I have a great idea – throw it up where only Rudy can get it."
"We kinda had fun," Snyder said. "But it's actually pretty true. It is one reason why he had a few assistants.
And one reason why Gobert has more than a few dunks.