The Cavaliers fell to the Utah Jazz Tuesday night by a score of 113-105. It was kind of a weird game, honestly. It was one of those games where I'd be watching and feel like the Cavs were down by 10 or 12 and then look at the scoreboard and see that it was a 4-point game. I guess you could say that it's encouraging that the Cavs obviously didn't play great and were still in the game for the most part. Regardless, the Cavs ultimately lost and fell to 4-5 on the season.
Cavs Leaders: Points: Jamison, 22; Rebounds: Varejao, 11; Assists: Irving, 5
The Cavaliers got absolutely dominated in the paint. Dominated. Al Jefferson had 30 points. Paul Millsap had 19 points. Derrick Favors had 14 points. The three Utah big men combined to shoot 27 of 33 from the field. That's just a casual 81%. EIGHTY ONE PERCENT. Let that sink in for a second.
Okay, got it? EIGHTY ONE PERCENT. The Jazz as a whole shot 59.3% and scored 56 points in the paint. That's not good. In the second half, the Jazz basically just scored at will. It was pretty frustrating to watch because Byron Scott did not make a switch and just continued to let Antawn Jamison and Semih Erden get abused in the post. He refused to double-team and for some reason, felt the urge to only play Tristan Thompson for 16 minutes. Hm. Tigger is one of the only guys on this team that can protect the rim and block shots effectively, yet he remained on the bench for most of the game. I'm not trying to overreact to the first 9 games on the season, but Scott's rotation minutes have been curious thus far.
I have to give Scott credit for keeping everyone's minutes down, however. It's a rough schedule due to the lockout and the rookies are not used to playing every other night or more frequently. It's a trade-off. While I'd like to see Kyrie and Tigger on the court for 35 minutes every night, it's probably best for them to ease into the rigor of an NBA schedule and not wear them out in the first month of the season. So, props are due there.
Omri Casspi continues to underwhelm. I've been hinting at it for a while now, but I'm pretty much ready to say that Alonzo Gee needs to start at SF. He's basically outplaying Casspi in every single facet of the game thus far. That is not to say that I am giving up on Casspi, because I'm not. I still think he can develop into a solid SF for this team, but he's not there yet. You've got to reward the guy who is producing and playing better. Casspi just doesn't look comfortable out there. I'm rooting for Omri, but Gee has been much better so far. Start him, Byron.
I guess we can talk about Antawn Jamison. After a horrific start to the season, Tawn is starting to come around to what we basically expected from him. He's scoring, albeit not efficiently. 22 points on 18 shots is not efficient, but on this team, the points have to come from somewhere. He's playing garbage defense; what else is new? He took a charge last night, which shows that he at least kind of cares. He has, at least temporarily, made me stop yelling at him every time he touches the ball; progress!
Semih Erden saw his first serious minutes of the season for the Cavs Tuesday night. Neither Ryan Hollins nor Samardo Samuels got any of the backup center minutes, while Erden played 17. He seems a little out of shape still, which is to be expected. He was essentially a non-factor against Utah, but I think it's fair to say that he's probably better than Hollins. I do think Samuels should be in the rotation to some degree, but we'll see. Scott seems to be favoring Semih at the current moment. That could change.
I already griped about Tristan's limited minutes against the big frontline of the Jazz, so this time I'll talk about the minutes when he was actually on the court. In 16 minutes, Tigger did his usual. He brought lots of energy and scored 9 points while grabbing 5 rebounds. He had 2 steals and a block as well. There was one play when he blocked a shot and just grabbed the ball. He didn't toss it into the stands or slap it off the backboard. He just blocked it and took it away from the shooter. It was awesome. At another point, TT blocked a shot that was just barely on its way down. He got called for the goal tend, but he was an impressive effort nonetheless. I really hope that nobody on the Cavs bench is discouraging the rookie from going for those blocks. I'd much rather have him be ultra-aggressive and get called for the occasional goal tend than be hesitant when it comes to blocking shots.
Fear The Sword's Player Of The Game:
The rookie point guard once again proved that he is the only one on this roster who can create for himself on the offensive end. He notched his 3rd career 20-point game and did it on only 14 shots. I know we all want to see the assist numbers go up a little bit, but how can you complain about a guy who is averaging 15-5 just 9 games into his NBA career? He had another couple sweet moves to get to the rim and score in the paint. I was doing some math last night and determined that if you take out his two crappy games against the Raptors, Kyrie is averaging 17.3 points per game on 50% shooting. Seems pretty awesome to me. Just keep Toronto away from him and we've got a stud on our hands.