Rudy Gobert suggests NBA refs are being influenced by sports betting after loss to Cavs

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After the Minnesota Timberwolves lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime on Friday by a final score of 113-104, Timberwolves big man Rudy Gobert had a lot to say about the state of officiating in the NBA.

“I bite the bullet every game,” Gobert said. “I’ll be the bad guy again that speaks what I think is the truth. I’ll take the fine. But 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.”

Gobert fouled out of the game with mere seconds remaining in regulation and subsequently was handed a technical foul for making a money gesture.

His technical foul allowed the Cavaliers to tie the game late with a made free throw from Darius Garland, and Cleveland proceeded to outplay the Timberwolves in overtime, as the team outscored Minnesota 16-7 in the period.

Before fouling out, Gobert totaled seven points, 17 rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks while shooting 3-of-7 from the floor.

Gobert has been one of the better centers in the NBA in the 2023-24 regular season. Across 62 appearances, he is averaging 13.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals and 2.1 blocks per game on 64.9 percent shooting from the field.

He also boasts the sixth-best defensive rating among players who have played in at least 50 games so far this season at 106.2. Three of the players who have better defensive ratings — Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kyle Anderson and Naz Reid — are his teammates.

Gobert has played an invaluable defensive role on a Timberwolves team that allows the fewest points per game in the NBA at 106.6. The Timberwolves also give up the fewest made shots per game at 39.0 and force opponents to shoot just 44.6 percent from the field, which is also the lowest of any team in the league.

Minnesota’s defensive excellence this season is a big reason why the team sits as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with a stellar 44-20 record and is less than one game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the conference’s best record.

But Gobert’s defensive chops weren’t enough to lead the Timberwolves to a road win over the Cavaliers, and he could face a fine following his actions and comments on Friday.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.