SALT LAKE CITY -- After spending four games occasionally going nose-to chest with his primary rival in the Defensive Player of the Year race, Draymond Green strolled out of Vivint Smart Home Arena with his head raised in victory.
Green's Warriors vanquished 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert and the Jazz 121-95 Monday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, sending Gobert and his teammates into the offseason with a four-game sweep of the series.
Green punctuated things with a stunning Game 4: 17 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, his third postseason triple-double and first of these playoffs. The 6-foot-7 forward also picked up two steals.
And that's not all. Green consistently found a reservoir of energy when the Warriors needed it most, not only in Game 4 but also over the course of the series.
He pushed his team to places too far for Gobert to pull himself or his teammates.
"Draymond was terrific," acting head coach Mike Brown said after the clinching win. "Yes, he had a triple-double, and that should definitely be celebrated because that was hard-earned tonight.
"But Draymond was terrific when Utah made a run and we kind of dropped out shoulders a little bit, and we were slow getting the ball out of bounds and bringing the ball up the floor, Draymond's pace was unbelievable. He forced our entire team to keep pushing the ball, no matter what the score was, no matter what type of run Utah went on, no matter if it was a made or missed basket."
If you don't think Green was eager to make a statement, you don't know him. He never thrives more than when faced with doubters. And even if he won't admit it, not yet at least, he surely wanted to prove himself a superior defender to Gobert.
It's not that Gobert played poorly, but he never could put his defensive stamp on any game in ways Green did most every game. The NBA's top shot-blocker had six over the four games; Green had four. Green had nine steals, Gobert two.
The Warriors were plus plus-51 when Green was on the floor, the Jazz minus-47 when Gobert was on the floor.
"You've got the best defender in the league, and you can't pick on him, even though he's 6-4, 6-3 maybe," Kevin Durant joked in a nod to Green's zest at challenging much taller players, including Gobert at times. "But playing the center position, you still can't pick on him. You can't throw the ball in the post and expect to get a basket. You're not going to go at him in pick-and-rolls. He can switch out. That's what starts our defensive intensity. It all starts with him, and we kind of fall in line after that."
The DPOY votes are in, with the winner to be revealed next month. If it's not Green, he might send out video of this series, all four games, to belatedly speak on his behalf.