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Jazz center Rudy Gobert returns from MCL sprain against Rockets

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert returned from an MCL sprain on Thursday against the Houston Rockets.
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Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert returned from a left MCL sprain in a 103–94 loss Thursday against the Houston Rockets.

The 7'1" Frenchman checked in midway through the first quarter for his first game action since Nov. 30. Gobert finished with six points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.

Gobert has appeared in just 14 of Utah’s 34 games this season, dealing with ankle and tailbone injuries in addition to the Grade II MCL sprain. He was listed as out indefinitely until Thursday, when he was upgraded to questionable. The Jazz announced Gobert would come off the bench and play on a minutes limit as they ease him back into the rotation.

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Gobert, 23, has become one of the league’s top shot-blockers early in his career. He entered Thursday’s game averaging 9.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks, all up from 2014–15, when he led Utah’s defense to a strong showing in the second half of the season.

The Jazz went 7–11 with Gobert sidelined and hold a 1/2-game lead on the eighth playoff spot in the West. His return to the rotation comes at a critical time, with starting power forward Derrick Favors having missed the last eight games with a back injury. Jeff Withey and rookie Trey Lyles have assumed major minutes in the absence of both big men.

- Jeremy Woo