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Utah’s Gobert wins third Defensive Player of the Year award

Utah’s Rudy Gobert won his third Defensive Player of the Year award Wednesday after helping the Utah Jazz to the best record in the NBA.

Gobert had the most total blocked shots and defensive rebounds in the league this season and became the fourth player to win the award at least three times.

A night after a game-sealing blocked shot in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, Gobert received 84 first-place votes and 464 points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.

Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons was second with 15 first-place votes and 287 votes, while Draymond Green of Golden State was third with 76 points.

Gobert was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019. Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace each won it four times and Dwight Howard three.

With Gobert in the middle, the Jazz went 52-20 and earned the overall No. 1 seed for the first time. They limited teams to 44.7% shooting, second-lowest in the league.

Miami’s Bam Adebayo earned the other first-place vote and finished fourth. Giannis Antetokounmpo rounded out the top five.

Antetokounmpo ended Gobert’s reign last year during a disappointing finish to the season for the native of France. Gobert’s positive test for the coronavirus triggered the NBA’s shutdown in March, and after play resumed the Jazz blew a 3-1 lead in the first round against Denver.

But the Jazz powered through this season and took Game 1 in the second round against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday when Gobert blocked Marcus Morris’ 3-point attempt to preserve a 112-109 victory.

Gobert’s third Defensive Player of the Year award broke a tie for the team record with Mark Eaton, who died last month at 64.

He averaged 14.3 points and 13.5 rebounds, tying a career high, in 71 games. His 2.7 blocks per game ranked second in the league.

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