Utah Jazz superstar Rudy Gobert returned to action after a month of being sidelined with a left knee sprain only to called a “ballhog” by Aussie teammate Joe Ingles.
Ingles, who had just equalled a career high with 21 points, hitting 5 of 9 three pointers, in a victory over the LA Clippers had him in prime position to poke fun at the frenchman.
“He wants the ball every time, which is annoying,” Ingles said, tongue-in-cheek, of the center who’s played well in two games since a 15-game absence. “But, hey, he’s been good for us.”
Gobert didn’t hear Ingles ribbing him, but, coincidentally, Gobert had some fun at the 30-year-old small forward’s expense in a display of mutual affection.
“When he asks for the ball, he can score,” Gobert said of Ingles, who tied his career-high with 21 points against the team that waived him before Utah picked him up.
“Hopefully, he can do it every game now — just shoot the ball.”
Ingles offensive output equalled a career-high he set against Golden State on Dec. 8, 2016. The increased production from Ingles and return of Gobert was enough to get the Jazz a 125-113 victory over the Clippers.
Ingles has consistently produced some of his best games against the LA Clippers (he had a 12-point game in November and an 18-point game in March), the team who cut him from their roster four days prior to the 2014 NBA season.
Ingles was quickly snapped up by Utah two days later and he’s been a key player for the Jazz and a major concern for the Clippers ever since.
That’s 5 triples tonight for Jingles, which he’s done 5 other times in his career 👌
21 ties a career high for Joseph | 🎥 | pic.twitter.com/rWqzbkgEQt
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 21, 2018
The Jazz pointed to unselfish ball movement as being a key to the teams offensive dominance, something synonymous with the play of Ingles. The Jazz scored a season-best 76 points in the first half.
That was the most they’ve scored in a half all season and just the second time they eclipsed the 70-point mark in a half.
“When the ball sticks or stays on one side of the floor, we’re not going to be as efficient,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said when asked about Ingles’s big night.
“We’re a team that needs the ball to move side to side, and, when it does, Joe’s usually involved in helping it move, and he’s the beneficiary lot of times of that movement.”
Ingles is doing a little bit of everything for the Jazz this season after signing a four-year, $52 million deal this year. Ingles also had four steals, three rebounds and two assists which helped boost Utah to a game-high 25-point lead in the third quarter.
With the game out of reach for the Clippers Utah’s coach Quin Snyder rewarded Ingles, Gobert and the rest of the team with some much needed rest on the bench as their second unit finished off the Clippers for the win.
“He was ready to shoot it, was aggressive,” Snyder said of Ingles.
“Particularly early, I thought he gave us a real lift to see the ball go in the basket with some timely threes.”
Ingles hit 8 of 15 shots overall (the most shot attempts he’s had this season is 16) and Gobert was quick to encourage Joe to shoot more often… but under one condition.
“Except when I’m on the court,” Gobert said. “When I’m on the court, I want him to pass.”
It seems the victory had all members of the Jazz in a jovial mood. Even Snyder decided to jab Rudy about his recent play on return from injury.
“Rudy’s an offensive center,” the Jazz joked when it was mentioned the Jazz had scored 115 and 125 since his return. “I’d like to see him start defending.”
If that includes giving the ball up to his Aussie teammate on occasion, Ingles would be all for that.
The Jazz currently sit 10th in the NBA’s Western Conference and with the Stifle Tower and Jingling Joe running on all cylinders, they’re hoping to make a run to the NBA playoffs in the second half of the season.