Gobert makes matters substantially worse after costing Timberwolves winnable game

Minnesota Timberwolves v Cleveland Cavaliers
Minnesota Timberwolves v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The Minnesota Timberwolves backup big man came through in a big way for Minnesota last night. Fifth-year pro Naz Reid dropped a career-high 34 points and tied a career-high canning seven 3-pointers in a losing effort.

Despite Reid's heroics, the Wolves were defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-104 in a back-and-forth overtime battle. Not the sole reason for the defeat, but starting big man Rudy Gobert didn't make things any easier.

In a two-point game with six minutes to go in the final period, Gobert posted up on Cleveland's Jarrett Allen, looking to score. After a couple of bumps to better his position, Gobert swiftly turned left, raising his right elbow, and knocked Allen to the ground.

Although the move wasn't egregious, Gobert was called for a flagrant one. Wolves coach Micah Nori, who was filling in for an ill Chris Finch, challenged the call. Albeit, the challenge was unsuccessful and Allen was rewarded with a trip to the free throw line.

The Cleveland center missed the first attempt but connected on the second—extending the lead to three points. After Allen's trip to the line, a defensive battle ensued over the next four minutes of game time.

With a tad less than two minutes to go, Allen threw down a contested slam from an Isaac Okoro assist to build the Cavs' lead. Next, Gobert threw down a dunk of his own and Reid connected on a difficult driving floater to take back the lead.

Then, what came next might have cost Minnesota the game. Right around the 30-second mark, Gobert and Allen got tangled up going for a rebound—ultimately leading to a foul called on Gobert. After being called for a foul, Gobert responded by flashing the money sign at the referees.

The French big man was subsequently hit with a technical foul. The tech sent Cleveland guard Darius Garland to the free-throw line. At the charity stripe, Garland knocked down the technical free throw, tying the game at 97.

On the final possession, Reid switched onto Garland and blocked his 3-point attempt for the win. Then, Minnesota got the ball back with only two seconds remaining. Kyle Anderson inbounded to Anthony Edwards who attempted a tough fadeaway but was off the mark.

In overtime sans Gobert, whose loose ball disqualified him from the game, the Wolves were outscored 16-7. Not all the blame falls on Gobert for the loss, as Edwards went 7-of-27 from the floor, but for a veteran to make such a gesture with the game on the line is catastrophic.

After the game, Gobert was asked about his untimely gesture. He acknowledged his wrongdoing by saying, "I should have not done that. I cost my team the game, and obviously, they couldn’t wait to give me a tech. That was bad. That was an immature reaction."

However, after Gobert's initial statement, he went on to say, "Referees make mistakes, too. But sometimes I think it’s more than mistakes. I think everyone that’s in this league knows. I think it’s got to get better."

The 31-year-old center doubled down on his comments. He said, "I think it's hurting our game. I know the betting and all that is becoming bigger and bigger, but it shouldn’t feel that way." It's blatantly obvious Gobert will be fined for his comments and he knows it too.

This isn't the first time Gobert has drawn the ire of fans and the league itself. Coincidentally, four years ago today, the former Utah Jazz star made sure to touch every microphone, making light of COVID-19, after a postgame interview.

Gobert's immature act then strained his relationship with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and coincided with Utah's rebuild. Over the next few seasons, Gobert has continued to irk those around him. His altercation in 2023 with Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green made rounds on social media and led to Green's indefinite suspension

Just a month ago, Gobert said this when asked about not making the All-Star team, "Not the first time I've been taken for granted, disrespected about these things," continued Gobert. "I've been in this league for a long time, I know how it works."

And per usual, the French star doubled down on his comments, later saying, "At my Hall of Fame speech, I'll be able to joke about how many times I got to enjoy some extra vacation because I got snubbed for the All-Star game."

Gobert is a sensation player. He's a three-time All-Star and a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year well on his way to his fourth award in such category. However, his lack of maturity has hurt his team time and time again.

Now in his 30s, it's time for Gobert to take on more responsibility as a leader. After Mike Conley Jr., Gobert is the second-most experienced player on the roster. Whereas Conley Jr. has yet to receive a technical foul in his 17-year career, Gobert has tended to show a lack of maturity and a failure to own up to his actions, despite his half-hearted apologies.