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Jazz sign Ekpe Udoh

Jazz sign Ekpe Udoh

The Utah Jazz announced yesterday (Friday) that the team has signed forward/center Ekpe Udoh (pronounced EPP-ay You-Doe) to a multi-year contract.

Standing 6-10 with a 7-foot-4½-inch wingspan, Udoh (6-10, 245, Baylor) enters his first season with the Jazz, after a successful stint with Fenerbahce Ulker (Turkey) from 2015-17. During the 2016-17 season, he appeared in 61 games (47 starts) in the Euroleague and Turkish Basketball Super League, averaging 11.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 blocks in 29.4 minutes per game. Udoh led Fenerbahce to their first ever Euroleague title and was named Final Four MVP. He averaged 14.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 3.5 blocks in wins against Real Madrid and Olympiacos Piraeus in the semifinals and finals, respectively. He finished the season leading the Euroleague during league play in rebounds per game (7.8) and blocks per game (2.1) while setting a single-season Euroleague record with 68 blocks.

The 30-year-old was also named a 2017 All-Euroleague First Team member and Turkish Super League All-Star as well as a runner-up for the Best Defender Trophy.

Originally selected in the first round (sixth overall selection) of the 2010 NBA Draft by Golden State, Udoh has appeared in 270 career games (52 starts) over five seasons in the NBA with Golden State, Milwaukee and the LA Clippers. He owns career averages of 4.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 16.9 minutes.

Udoh played two collegiate seasons at Michigan (2006-08) where he was named to the All-Big Ten Defensive Team as a sophomore before transferring to Baylor. During his lone season with the Bears, he set a Big 12 and Baylor record with 133 blocks leading to All-Big 12 and All-American recognition by conference coaches and media after averaging 13.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.7 blocks in 35.1 minutes over 36 games.

A fan favorite known throughout his basketball travels for establishing book clubs and holding movie nights with fans, Udoh was born and raised in Edmond, Okla., where he attended Santa Fe High School. Of Nigerian descent, his full given name is Ekpedeme, which translates to “Lion.”

He will wear No. 33 for the Jazz.

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The Jazz have signed center/forward Eric Griffin to a two-way contract.

Griffin (6-8, 205, Campbell) competed with the Jazz during both the 2017 Utah Jazz Summer League in Salt Lake City and NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. In three games in Salt Lake City, Griffin averaged 8.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 17.8 minutes per game while shooting .588 percent from the field. He displayed steady improvement once the team arrived to Las Vegas, averaging 10.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 3.0 blocks in 25.5 minutes over four games (one start), including two double-doubles.

Prior to summer league, the Orlando, Fla., native most recently competed for Hapoel Galil Gilboa in the Israeli Basketball Premier League, where he averaged 14.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 31.7 minutes per game this past season.

Additionally, Griffin has international experience playing in the United Arab Emirates, where he helped lead Al-Nasr Dubai SC to the 2015-16 Cup Final, as well as Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Italy. Stateside, he spent the 2014-15 season with the (now) NBA G League’s Texas Legends, where he was selected as an All-Star and chosen to the All-League Third Team and All-League Defensive Second Team after posting 19.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 49 games (48 starts). Griffin has also attended NBA training camps with Miami (2013), Dallas (2014) and Detroit (2015)

Griffin finished his collegiate career at Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C., where in just two seasons (2010-12) he finished as the school’s career field goal percentage leader (.559) and ranked third on the Camels’ all-time blocks list with 134 rejections. As a senior he averaged 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.4 blocks in 30.3 minutes and was selected All-Big South First Team. He also competed at Hiwassee College in Madisonville, Tenn., and Garden City Community College in Kansas before arriving at Campbell.

The 2017-18 season will mark the first year NBA teams can utilize two-way contracts. Teams will be permitted to carry two such players on their roster in addition to their 15-man regular season roster. Utah’s two-way players will spend time with the team’s exclusively owned and operated NBA G League team, the Salt Lake City Stars, as well as the Jazz, but no more than 45 days in the NBA, not including any time prior to the start of the Stars’ training camp and at the conclusion of the season. Griffin becomes the first Jazz player to sign a two-way contract.

Utah Jazz sign Royce O`Neale

The Utah Jazz have signed forward Royce O’Neale.

O’Neale (6-6, 226, Baylor) played for Gran Canaria in Spain during the 2016-17 season, averaging 8.3 points on 44.9 percent shooting, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 20.6 minutes in 52 games (32 starts). He was the second-highest rated defender among all small forwards in the ACB, and also ranked second in rebound percentage (16.3) and fifth in assist percentage (17.1).

Additionally, O’Neale participated in the 2016 Utah Jazz Mini-Camp held at Zions Bank Basketball Center.

The 24-year-old played his first professional season in Germany for MHP Risen Ludwigburg in 2015-16, where he averaged 8.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 46 games (28 starts).

A four-year college player, O’Neale spent two years at the University of Denver (2011-13) before finishing his collegiate career at Baylor (2013-15). He averaged 10.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals as a senior for the Bears. Over his two seasons at Baylor, O’Neale shot 48.3 percent, including 44.8 percent from beyond arc. As a senior in 2014-15, he shot over 50 percent from three in 16 games and was also selected to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

Born in Killeen, Texas, the 6-6 forward played his high school basketball at Harker Heights High School in Harker Heights, Texas, where he set several school scoring and rebounding records.

He will wear jersey #23 for the Jazz.

Jazz sign Jonas Jerebko

The Utah Jazz have signed forward Jonas Jerebko (pronounced JO-ness Jeh-REB-ko) to a multi-year contract.

Jerebko (6-10, 231, Sweden) appeared in 78 games (six starts) for the Boston Celtics this past season, averaging 3.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 15.8 minutes of action for a team that finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference and advanced to the Conference Finals.

Originally selected in the second round (39th overall selection) of the 2009 NBA Draft by Detroit, the 30-year-old has appeared in 488 career games (94 starts) over seven NBA seasons with Detroit and Boston. He owns career averages of 6.2 points and 4.1 rebounds while hitting 35.2 percent from three-point range in 18.4 minutes. He has shot 40 percent or better from three-point range in three different seasons, including two of his last three.

Jerebko has seen action in a total of 22 postseason games (four starts), all with the Celtics, averaging 5.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 10.7 minutes per game. This past season, he appeared in 12 playoff games during the Celtics’ run for the Eastern Conference Finals, including a 10-point performance on 4-of-4 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from three in Boston’s Game 3 win at Cleveland.

In his rookie season with Detroit, Jerebko earned 2009-10 All-Rookie Second Team honors as well as Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for February and compete in the Rookie Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend.

The son of a former professional European basketball player, Jerebko is a native of Kinna, Sweden, and represented his home country at the 2013 Eurobasket Championships, posting 16.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in five games.

He joins what was already the most international team in the NBA in 2016-17. The seven players on the current Jazz roster born outside the United States hail from Australia (two), France, Brazil, Spain, Switzerland and the Ukraine.

Jerebko is also owner of a professional eSports team, Renegades CS:GO.

He will wear jersey No. 8 for the Jazz.

Jazz waive Boris Diaw

Jazz waive Boris Diaw

The Utah Jazz have waived veteran center/forward Boris Diaw.

During his lone season in Salt Lake City, the 14-year veteran from France appeared in 73 games (33 starts), averaging 4.6 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 17.6 minutes per game.

Diaw is a crafty big-man with good passing skills. There’s a good chance a team seeking frontcourt depth will offer him a contract for the upcoming season.

Gordon Hayward’s decision to part ways with the Jazz is a severe blow to the squad. Here’s the Deseret Morning News reporting how a remaining member of Utah’s team is dealing with the disappointment:

Joe Ingles not happy that Gordon Hayward left Jazz

Leave it to Joe Ingles to bring some levity to an emotionally charged situation.

Ingles was Gordon Hayward’s best friend on the Utah Jazz, so he wasn’t thrilled when the All-Star decided to sign with the Boston Celtics instead of staying with the 51-win team.

But Ingles, who’s agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract with Utah, is trying to take Hayward’s impending move in stride.

“He’s always going to be a good friend of mine,” Ingles said in an interview with NBA Australia this week. “But I still don’t like him for the time being because he left us, but we’ll be fine.”

Jazz sign rookie Tony Bradley

The Utah Jazz announced yesterday that the team has signed center Tony Bradley, the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, to his rookie contract.

Bradley (6-10, 248, North Carolina) averaged 7.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game during his lone season with UNC. He ranked second on the team in field goal percentage (.573) and third in rebounds per game with over half of his rebounds coming on the offensive glass. The 6-10 center became the first player in school history with 150-or-more rebounds in a single-season with more offensive than defensive rebounds. Bradley recorded five points and seven rebounds to help the Tar Heels capture the 2017 National Championship.

The 19-year-old is currently playing as member of the Jazz entry at the 2017 Utah Jazz Summer League, recording eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes during his NBA debut on July 3 vs. San Antonio Spurs.

The Bartow, Fla., native was named the 2016 Florida Mr. Basketball and Gatorade Player of the Year while competing for Bartow High School. He also appeared in the McDonald’s All-American Game and the Jordan Brand Classic as a senior.

He will wear jersey #13 for the Jazz.

Jazz sign rookie Donovan Mitchell

The Utah Jazz have signed guard Donovan Mitchell, the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, to his rookie contract.

Mitchell (6-3, 215, Louisville) played two seasons at Louisville, averaging 15.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.7 assists in 34 games as a sophomore. He registered 18.1 points per game in conference play, sixth-best in the ACC. Mitchell led the Cardinals in scoring, steals, three-point field goals (80) and minutes per game (32.3). He was selected to the 2017 All-ACC First Team by the league coaches and media as well as the All-ACC Defensive Team.

The 20-year-old is currently playing as member of the Jazz entry at the 2017 Utah Jazz Summer League, scoring 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting with five assists, three steals and two rebounds in his NBA debut on July 3 vs. San Antonio Spurs.

The 6-3 guard played high school basketball at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H. He also played baseball (pitcher and shortstop) as well as soccer (goalie) in high school.

He will wear jersey #45 for the Jazz.

Ricky Rubio trade to Jazz became official today

The Utah Jazz announced today that following the successful outcome of his physical, the team’s acquisition of point guard Ricky Rubio from Minnesota is complete and Rubio is now officially a member of the Utah Jazz.

“We are thrilled to add a player of Ricky’s character and ability to the Jazz program,” said Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey. “He is an elite passing point guard with great defensive skills who we are confident will be a valuable addition to the team.

Rubio (6-4, 190, Spain) was acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves on June 30, pending the physical, in exchange for a protected future first-round pick from Oklahoma City.

“Ricky possesses a great feel for the game,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder. “His defense and ability to share the ball coupled with his floor leadership should make him an instant fit into what we are building.”

He appeared in 75 games (all starts) for the Timberwolves this past season, averaging career highs of 11.1 points and 9.1 assists while adding 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 32.9 minutes of action. The point guard finished the season ranked fourth in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.5), fifth in assists per game, ninth in steals and 11th in free throw percentage (.891), and also graded second in pure point rating (PPR) at 10.7 (trailing only Chris Paul). Rubio also registered 25 point/assist double-doubles, including 14 of them in 24 games post All-Star Break, when he increased his averages to 16.0 points, 10.5 assists with 1.5 steals while shooting .353 from three-point range.

Originally selected in the first round (fifth overall selection) of the 2009 NBA Draft by Minnesota, the 26-year-old Spaniard appeared in 353 career games (333 starts) over six seasons with the Timberwolves, and owns career averages of 10.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 8.5 assists in 31.8 minutes. He leaves the Wolves as the franchise’s all-time leader in both assists (8.5) and steals per game (2.1) as well as point/assist double-doubles (83), while ranking behind only Kevin Garnett in total assists (2991) and steals (747).

Over his first six NBA seasons, Rubio has ranked in the top five in the league in assists per game three times (five times in top 10), and in the top 10 in steals four times. He earned 2011-12 All-Rookie First Team honors while finishing second to Kyrie Irving in Rookie of the Year balloting.

Prior to joining the NBA, Rubio played six seasons (2005-11) professionally in the Spanish ACB League for Joventus (2005-09) and FC Barcelona (2009-11) after making his debut at the age of 14, the youngest player ever to compete in the ACB to that point.

A native of El Masnou, Spain, Rubio has represented his home country at both the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where at age 17 he became the youngest player ever to participate in a men’s gold medal game. He began his international career in 2005 on Spain’s U16 team, and in 2006 was named MVP the 2006 FIBA Europe U16 championships after leading Spain to the gold medal.

Rubio joins what was the most international team in the NBA in 2016-17, featuring seven players born outside of the United States representing five other countries. In addition to the U.S., players on the current Jazz roster now hail from Australia (two), France (two), Brazil, Spain and the Ukraine.

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder Statement on Gordon Hayward

Quin Snyder Statement on Gordon Hayward

“Since my arrival to Utah, Gordon gave his best every day we were together. I can’t say enough about his professionalism day in and day out. He is a unique competitor and I am thankful for the opportunity to have coached him over the last three seasons. Speaking on behalf of my staff, we are very proud of his growth and development as a player into an NBA All-Star, and are also appreciative of his contributions. Gordon’s progression epitomizes the partnership that we believe is the cornerstone of our player development emphasis and philosophy.

I believe this was a difficult decision for Gordon and Robyn and their young family, and one they reached earnestly. While their extended Jazz family is disappointed to see them leave, we wish them happiness and success in their future and understand that they chose a path they felt was the right one for them.

Certainly we will miss Gordon and his many contributions to our team, but I always tell our players that ‘adversity is opportunity in disguise.’ This is one of those moments and we need to live those words. We have a roster of young, talented and resilient players. I am confident that together we will accept this challenge while continuing to strive toward our goal of individual and collective improvement.

To further lament Gordon’s departure does not honor the commitment we have to our current players. Therefore, I would like to personally wish Gordon well as he and his family move on with his career. As we move forward, we’ll continue to focus our attention on the place it is most needed and wanted, our players and the entirety of the Jazz organization.”

Utah Jazz statements on Gordon Hayward

Utah Jazz free agent forward Gordon Hayward will reportedly be signing a deal with the Boston Celtics. Tonight, the Jazz issued some statements about his departure:

Gail Miller, Chairman of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies: “Gordon has been an important part of our Jazz family for the past seven years. While disappointed that he is moving on, we thank him for his contributions to the organization and wish Gordon, Robyn and their family well. We thank him for his play, his leadership and how well he represented the Jazz and the state of Utah.”

Steve Starks, President, Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment: “The Jazz made a compelling case for Gordon to stay and managed the process well. A foundation for success has been established here, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to bring a championship to Utah. From our renovated facilities to our dedicated ownership, we are building a winning culture that will make Jazz fans proud.”

Dennis Lindsey, General Manager, Utah Jazz: “We are proud of the player that Gordon developed into with the Jazz, and wish him and his family the best of luck. Despite his departure, we still have a tremendous coaching staff and very good young core of players in place as we move forward.”

Timberwolves trade Ricky Rubio to Jazz

Timberwolves trade Ricky Rubio to Jazz

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has acquired point guard Ricky Rubio from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a protected future first-round pick from Oklahoma City, pending the outcome of a successful physical.

“We’d like to thank Ricky for his time in Minnesota over the course of the last six-plus years,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. “Ricky has been a consummate professional over my time in Minnesota and has done tremendous things in the community. We appreciate all he’s done for the organization and wish him the best of luck in Utah.”

Rubio (6-4, 190, Spain) appeared in 75 games (all starts) for the Timberwolves this season, averaging career highs of 11.1 points and 9.1 assists while adding 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 32.9 minutes of action. The point guard finished the season ranked fourth in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.5), fifth in assists per game, ninth in steals and 11th in free throw percentage (.891), and also graded second in pure point rating (PPR) at 10.7 (trailing only Chris Paul). Rubio also registered 25 point/assist double-doubles, including 14 of them in 24 games post All-Star Break, when he increased his averages to 16.0 points, 10.5 assists with 1.5 steals while shooting .353 from three-point range.

Originally selected in the first round (fifth overall selection) of the 2009 NBA Draft by Minnesota, the 26-year-old Spaniard appeared in 353 career games (333 starts) over six seasons with the Timberwolves, and owns career averages of 10.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 8.5 assists in 31.8 minutes. He leaves the Wolves as the franchise’s all-time leader in both assists (8.5) and steals per game (2.1) as well as point/assist double-doubles (83), while ranking behind only Kevin Garnett in total assists (2991) and steals (747).

Over his first six NBA seasons, Rubio has ranked in the top five in the league in assists per game three times (five times in top 10), and in the top 10 in steals four times. He earned 2011-12 All-Rookie First Team honors while finishing second to Kyrie Irving in Rookie of the Year balloting.

Prior to joining the NBA, Rubio played six seasons (2005-11) professionally in the Spanish ACB League for Joventus (2005-09) and FC Barcelona (2009-11) after making his debut at the age of 14, the youngest player ever to compete in the ACB to that point.

A native of El Masnou, Spain, Rubio has represented his home country at both the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where at age 17 he became the youngest player ever to participate in a men’s gold medal game. He began his international career in 2005 on Spain’s U16 team, and in 2006 was named MVP the 2006 FIBA Europe U16 championships after leading Spain to the gold medal.

Rubio joins what was the most international team in the NBA in 2016-17, featuring seven players born outside of the United States representing five other countries. In addition to the U.S., players on the current Jazz roster now hail from Australia (two), France (two), Brazil, Spain and the Ukraine.

Rudy Gobert makes All-Defensive First Team

The NBA today announced that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has been named to the 2016-17 NBA All-Defensive First Team, marking the first selection of his career. Receiving 196 total points (97 First Team votes), he was the second-leading vote getter and an overwhelming selection, as chosen by a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. He becomes the first Jazz player since 2005-06 (Andrei Kirilenko) to be named to an All-NBA Defensive Team. He is also a finalist for both NBA Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player, which will be awarded tonight as part of the inaugural NBA Awards show live on TNT (7 p.m. MT).

Gobert was also named to the All-NBA Second Team in May. Appearing in 81 games (all starts), Gobert averaged career highs of 14.0 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game while posting career-bests in field goal percentage (.662) and free throw percentage (.653) while helping the Jazz to their first 50-win season since 2009-10. He led the NBA in total blocks (214), blocks per game (2.6), block percentage (6.4), defensive win shares (6.0), defensive real plus/minus (6.03), true shooting percentage (.683) and points per shot (1.82). He finished third in offensive rating (129.0) and defensive rating (99.2), the only player in the NBA to finish in the top-five in both categories. His .662 mark from the field is the best for a single-season in franchise history and ranked second in the NBA this year.

The fourth-year center became the first player in franchise history and the first NBA player since 2009-10 to compile 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 200 blocks in a single season. In addition, he now ranks seventh on the Jazz all-time blocks list (579). Gobert recorded a league-best 42 consecutive games with at least one block and led the league with four games of at least six blocks, eight games with five blocks, 18 games with four blocks, 42 games with three blocks, 63 games with two blocks and 77 games with one block. He anchored a Jazz defense that led the league in opponent points per game (96.8), finished second in opponent field goal percentage (.443) and third in defensive rating (102.7).

Utah Jazz seek shooter

Here’s the Deseret Morning News reporting on the Jazz, who continue to build upward as they try to make themselves a serious contender.

The Utah Jazz aren’t dominating the NBA social media buzz a la the New York Knicks, but they are hard at work trying to improve their team as tonight’s draft approaches.

Their target: shooting.

The Jazz remain “very active” in trying to trade for or move up to draft a shooter who can make an immediate impact on the roster, sources told the Deseret News.

Utah has two late first-round picks — its own selection, No. 24, and the Warriors’ slot, No. 30 — and the Jazz are trying to parlay those choices into the best available shooter in the 12-17 range, sources said. To do that in this loaded draft, Utah would likely need to sweeten the pot with another asset or two.

As pretty much everybody predicted, the Warriors have eliminated the Jazz. As most predicted, it happened in the form of a 4-0 sweep. The Warriors now advance to the Western Conference Finals, where they’ll play the winner of the Spurs vs Rockets series. Here’s the Bay Area News Group reporting:

Now they await the winner of the Rockets and Spurs series, which sits at 2-2. If it ends in six, the West Finals start in Oracle Arena on Sunday. If it extends to seven, the West Finals start in Oracle on Tuesday.

Either way, a rested, steamrolling Warriors team will be awaiting as monster favorites, having won 23 of their last 24 games dating back to mid-March and all eight of their playoff games by margins of 12, 29, 6, 25, 12, 11, 11 and 26 points.

But there were at least tiny moments of adversity on Monday night.

Early on, it didn’t look like it’d be that way. After hitting only one shot in a slow Game 3, Klay Thompson opened the scoring with a pair of jumpers. Then Steph Curry hit a pair of 3s. Then Kevin Durant found Curry on a creative give-and-go layup on a baseline out of bounds play.

Meanwhile, the Jazz offense slumped against a locked in Warriors defense, missing their first 10 two-point shots and going only 6-of-25 in the first quarter. A 12-3 lead became a 21-7 lead became a 39-17 first quarter cushion — similar to the 45-22 first quarter they popped on the Blazers in Game 4.

New Utah Jazz NBA playoff shirts

After white-out conditions for the 2017 NBA Playoffs First Round at Vivint Smart Home Arena, Utah Jazz fans will be dressed in the team colors of navy, gold and green for the Western Conference Semifinals. The first two home games are set for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 and 7 p.m. on Monday, May 8 against the Golden State Warriors.

ArenaTshirtMockupThe tri-colored “Take Note” T-shirts, presented by Zions Bank and Key Bank respectively, will be placed on each chair at the 19,911-seat facility for fans to wear for the first two home playoff games. Related to the design of the tri-colored basketball at midcourt, each section in the lower and upper bowls of Vivint Smart Home Arena will have navy, gold or green T-shirts.

George Hill clutch from FT line for Jazz

Here’s the Desert News reporting on the Jazz and their first round playoff series vs the Clippers:

George Hill clutch from FT line for Jazz

Despite being an 80 percent free-throw shooter during the regular season, George Hill came into Tuesday night’s playoff game in Los Angeles as the fifth-best foul shooter for the Jazz during the playoffs. So perhaps he was a good choice for the Clippers to put at the line in the closing seconds with the Jazz clinging to precarious leads.

Hill went to the line with 10.8 seconds left and the Jazz up by three points and again with 4.0 seconds left and his team up by two. In both cases, Hill coolly swished both free throws to allow the Jazz to hang on for a 96-92 victory.

Afterward, Hill said he welcomed the opportunity to be put on the line in a pressurized situation and said he goes through it every day in practice.

“Most definitely — we have a shooting competition every day in practice to see who’s the best free-throw shooter,” he said. “We’ve got a belt that we give out to the best free-throw shooter for the month. It’s been in my locker, Gordon’s locker and Joe Ingles’ locker most of the year. So we take a challenge in that.”

Rudy Gobert suffers knee injury

The Utah Jazz enjoyed a big win in Game 1 of their first round playoff series in L.A. against the Clippers, but their star center suffered a knee injury just seconds into the game. Here’s the Deseret News reporting:

Rudy Gobert suffers knee injury

The Utah Jazz’s first playoff game in five years couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.

It couldn’t have had a better finish — well, almost.

Despite playing all but 17 seconds without defensive terror Rudy Gobert, the Jazz took a 1-0 first-round series lead over the Los Angles Clippers with a shocking 97-95 win at Staples Center after veteran forward Joe Johnson dropped in a stunning game-winning floater at the buzzer…

Seconds into the organization’s first playoff game since 2012, Hayward made a pass that sailed way above Gobert’s head into the Staples Center crowd.

It wasn’t a bad pass. Normally, in fact, the pass would’ve been right on target.

Problem was, Gobert wasn’t standing up. The 7-foot-1 center was crawling on the court in agony, having just injured his left knee while setting a screen for Hayward.

State of Jazz in home stretch of season

As the playoff race intensifies, here’s the Salt Lake Tribune reporting on the Jazz:

With a little over two weeks remaining in the regular season, Utah’s playoff positioning continues to be fluid. The Jazz have been mostly in the fourth spot since the All-Star break. But that reality — and the home-floor advantage that comes with it — is tenuous at best.

The Clippers have an easier remaining schedule than the Jazz, and Saturday’s win over Utah gives Los Angeles the tiebreaker, should the two teams finish with identical records.

But heading into Monday night’s home matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Jazz are frankly less worried about playoff positioning, and more worried about simply getting back to playing good basketball.

“Everyone wants to talk about the playoffs, but honestly we just have to get back to who we are,” Utah shooting guard Rodney Hood said. “We have to get back to playing well regardless. If we can do that, we’ll be fine.”

Rudy Gobert fined by NBA

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has been fined $25,000 for making physical contact with a game official, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred with 5:19 remaining in the third quarter of the Jazz’s 109-95 win over the Bucks on Feb. 24 at BMO Harris Bradley Center.

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