Sports

Gobert to Waiters: 'It's not my feelings, it's my knee'

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert grabs his knee after being injured in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert grabs his knee after being injured in the second half during an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — Rudy Gobert believes he has every right to be upset after sustaining a leg injury that's expected to keep him out at least four weeks.

The Utah Jazz big man went down Friday when Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters crashed into his leg, causing Gobert's knee to buckle. The 7-foot-1 centre initially called it a dirty play.

Waiters was going after a loose ball, then dove awkwardly into Gobert's leg. He later tweeted, "Dove for the ball right..." with video of the play.

Waiters told the Sun-Sentinel on Sunday that he's never been a dirty player and, "Tell him to get out of his feelings and that's what it is, just like that."

"It's not my feelings, it's my knee," Gobert said Monday. "That's a little more important.

"I like to play basketball. Sometimes if someone takes that away from you, you've got to get in your feelings for a reason."

Gobert woke up Saturday with unexpected stiffness and swelling in the leg. An MRI revealed a bruised right tibia. The 2016-17 second-team All-NBA centre said it could have been worse and he's happy to know he'll fully recover with no ligament or structural damage. The rehab process is basically to get the swelling down and stay strong and in shape.

Playoff aspirations and individual goals remain intact, though they will be much more difficult for Utah to achieve. The Jazz have now lost Gobert for a month, Joe Johnson (wrist) has yet to return and was expected to miss a month, and Dante Exum is out for the season after shoulder surgery. All this after the team lost its top two scorers, Gordon Hayward and George Hill, during off-season free agency.

"Just frustrating that I'll miss some time," Gobert said. "At the same time I'm feeling lucky because when I look at the video, if I don't lift my foot up in the air at the same moment, it'd be way worse. Good and bad."

The Frenchman is averaging 13.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Derrick Favours started at centre Saturday and had 24 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks.

The Jazz plan to re-evaluate Gobert after four weeks and the general timeline for his return is four to six weeks. Utah's top player is optimistic it will be sooner than that.

"Usually, I heal very fast," Gobert said. "We're not going to rush it or do anything stupid. But I'm pretty confident that I can be back before that."

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