Rudy Gobert inadvertently motivated both of the Boston Celtics' star players Wednesday night.
The Minnesota Timberwolves center first irked Jaylen Brown when he caught the Celtics guard in the face with a stray elbow late in the first half. Brown, who was wearing a mask to protect a facial fracture he suffered last month, called Gobert's actions "a little bit reckless" after the game.
Early in the second half, Gobert drew the ire of Derrick White when he appeared to kick the Celtics guard in the chest while following through on a dunk before flexing in White's direction, earning a technical foul in the process.
Fast forward to the very next possession, where C's star Jayson Tatum detonated on Gobert with a poster dunk.
After the game, Tatum admitted he had revenge on his mind when he elevated on Gobert.
"Yeah, I definitely didn't appreciate him doing that to D-White," Tatum told reporters. "They called a tech, whatever. But attacking the rim, especially when he's down there, you can't lay it up, he's gonna block that s---. So, you've got to put pressure on the refs to make the call and attack the rim."
Tatum had a rough shooting night (4 for 16 from the floor; 0 for 8 from 3-point range) but still finished with 22 points thanks to 14 free throws. His monster dunk on Gobert helped spark a mini Celtics run, as they expanded their lead to double digits before holding on in the fourth quarter for a 104-102 victory.
Tatum also fell hard on his hip after the dunk but stayed in the game and suggested his injury isn't serious.
"Came down, fell right on my hip," Tatum added. "Pretty sore, nothing crazy, but just got to monitor it, keep icing it, things like that."
The C's have lacked passion and energy on occasion since coming out of the All-Star break, but their competitive fire came out Wednesday night at Target Center, thanks in part to Gobert, whose role as the villain backfired for Minnesota.