This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
While the dagger that would kill the Los Angeles Clippers' chances at a victory was still in the air, point guard Chris Paul put two hands into the back of 7-foot Rudy Gobert and shoved him.
In doing so, the All-Star point guard picked up a technical and gave Gobert and the Jazz a preview of how unfriendly the playoffs just might be.
Gobert didn't seem to mind the unwelcoming committee much, though, walking right up to Paul to share a few words.
"Man, I don't know. I ain't worried about him," Paul told reporters when asked about the dust-up during the Jazz's 114-108 win at Vivint Smart Home Arena. "He talks a lot. He can play, but he just talks a lot."
In English or in French?
"I don't know," Paul said. "I don't care."
But after Utah's win, which moved the Jazz two games ahead of the Clippers for fourth place in the West, these two teams have a good chance of getting to know each other a lot more.
"We obviously know what's at stake with potentially playing them again," forward Joe Ingles said. "You don't think about it every day, but we know where we're standing. Everyone knows where we're standing. It was a big game."
And big games can get physical.
"It was a physical game," Ingles said. "Both bigs on each team were screening, and we were all getting cracked there for a little bit. That's what it's going to be like. We've got to get used to that."
Gobert picked up a technical foul earlier in the game, when he elbowed Clippers guard J.J. Redick, drawing the sharpshooter's ire.
"He got into me," Gobert said afterward. "I didn't even know I touched him. I set a screen. I probably elbowed him. I wasn't trying to."
The fans all 19,911 of them were as loud as they had been all season.
"You can tell it's getting down to playoff time here," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said.
And if the Jazz can hold onto fourth place for the final 15 games of the season, those fans will have a chance to cheer on a team with home-court advantage with a strong probability of facing the Clippers in the first round.
Ingles knows Paul and the Clippers' cast of stars, having played with them in training camp before joining the Jazz. He remains friends with them, too.
At least until the ball is in the air.
"I'm a people person, so I get on with everyone,"