Rudy Gobert's swats keep Nets stifled

Dunking over Rudy Gobert is not a good idea (0:22)

Willie Reed might be better off just forgetting about attempting to dunk the ball over Jazz C Rudy Gobert, getting rejected on his way to the basket. (0:22)

NEW YORK -- In the third quarter, Willie Reed had a bad idea.

The Brooklyn Nets’ reserve big man decided to try to dunk on Rudy Gobert, the NBA’s best rim protector.

Predictably, it did not go well.

Reed went up for a two-handed slam and the Utah Jazz’s 7-3 center denied him … with two hands.

It was one of three blocks for the “Stifle Tower,” who dominated his counterpart Brook Lopez and the rest of the Nets in a 108-86 Jazz victory on Friday night at Barclays Center.

Gobert, who added 10 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes, forced Lopez into three turnovers in the third, as Brooklyn’s max big man sat for the final 19:24 with the game turning into a rout.

“He’s a very smart player, so I knew he was going to try to get me off my feet, which he did one time,” Gobert said of Lopez, who finished with just eight points and three rebounds in 19 minutes. “But I just wanted to stay on the ground and make sure I didn’t foul when he does the ‘rip move’ kind of like James Harden -- the James Harden of centers. But he’s a great player, so I just have to be smart with him.”

The Jazz (19-24), who won for just the second time on the road since November, led by as many as 31. They had 11 dunks overall and outscored the Nets by 20 in the third (37-17) by shooting 16-for-22 from the field.

The Nets (11-33) have now lost five in a row, 10 of 11 and have won just once at home since Dec. 10. Brooklyn, which led by as many as 11 in the first quarter, has now lost 11 games in which it established a double-digit advantage.

Gobert, 24, who missed 18 games with a sprained MCL, is holding opponents to just 40.7 percent shooting at the rim and averaging 2.7 blocks a night.

“I think it comes with experience and pride, too,” Gobert said of his defensive prowess. “I mean obviously the height helps a little bit, but just pride and you learn over time how to do it. I’m still getting better at it. There are some situations I need to be smarter and just jump straight up and make them take tough shots.”

Utah coach Quin Snyder has implored his team to keep “grinding” despite some tough recent losses on the road. Sacramento’s Rudy Gay beat the Jazz at the buzzer and they fell to Charlotte in double-overtime and to New York in OT.

But despite not having Dante Exum all season, with Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Gobert missing significant chunks of it due to injury, the Jazz have put themselves right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race.

Gordon Hayward has been particularly tremendous, ripping off 36, 27 and 21 points in his past three games. His assist totals have also gone up significantly.

“As one of the older guys on the team, I try to lead by example,” said Hayward, 25, who is averaging 19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game on 43.2 percent shooting. “There have been some tough losses of late, so we’ve got to keep working and try to get better. I just have to be better.”

The Jazz were supposed to play the Wizards in Washington on Saturday night, but the game was postponed because of the blizzard that is predicted to slam the Northeast. After Friday night’s game, they attempted to fly out of Newark, New Jersey.

A six-game homestand awaits.