Rudy Gobert made his way back to the court to man the stingy defense of the Utah Jazz after missing nine straight games with a left calf strain.
The Jazz blew out the Rockets, 135-101, and the Stifle Tower contributed 14 points, seven rebounds, and had one block in 22 minutes before he was ejected in the fourth quarter.
“I was antsy. — I couldn’t wait to get back on the court and be a part of what our team is doing now,” Gobert said per NBA.com.
In the 14 games Gobert missed, he missed five games previously; the Jazz has gone 6-8 and entered their Monday night contest, riding a five-game win streak. With Gobert in the starting lineup, the Jazz has gone 23-8 thus far.
Gobert has averaged 15.9 points, 14.9 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game this year. His point and rebounding averages, as well as his free throw (69.0 percent) and field goal (71.1 percent) accuracy, are all career-high numbers.
The Jazz (36-21) play the Lakers (26-31) on Wednesday. Since Jan. 1, the Jazz has gone 10-12 and lost and traded veteran swingman Joe Ingles to a torn ACL while sitting at fourth place in the West after falling behind 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies. Utah will also look to improve its defense after falling out of the top five.
“Our energy is different. I feel like something happened within our team. In that slump that we had — it really sparked something. I feel like we’re a team that’s trying to accomplish something,” Gobert said.