The Utah Jazz are young, play with energy and confidence, and are known for their ability to defend at a high level. They went on a run at the beginning of the fourth quarter and built a nine point lead on the road against a good Cleveland Cavaliers team. It didn't end up being enough. The Cavs played with intensity for much of the night. It wasn't always smart intensity, and there were turnovers on turnovers. But in the end, it led to a home win over a hungry and good team.
Your Cleveland Cavaliers 118, the Utah Jazz 114.
It starts with LeBron James, who had an efficient 31 points on 19 shots and took over in the fourth quarter. He made hustle plays, he scored as the pick and roll roll man and ballhandler, he scored on cuts. He picked off passes like a free safety and he made enough free throws late. He's acted and played like the league's MVP so far this season, and tonight was no different. The final line: 31 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, five turnovers, and two steals.
Before I talk about Mo Williams, let me also make sure I don't forget Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Love had 22 points on 16 shots, eight rebounds, and three assists. He made a few big defensive plays and hit a few threes that the Cavs absolutely needed. Thompson displayed continued improvement protecting the rim, and a familiar lack of polish off of offensive rebound and otherwise. He was overall a big positive, but he's not far from being an amazing force if he avoids a turnover here and there and finishes a bit better.
Mo Williams had himself a great game. He committed some frustrating turnovers throughout the night, but his jump shot is a real weapon. 29 points on nine shots. I mean, come on. When the Cavs brought him in, they could not have expected anything like this. There have been a few games this season where his offensive abilities have kept the team in the game. Tonight was one of those games.
Utah is a really good team. Rodney Hood, Alec Burks and Trey Burke all showed a bit of potential. Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, and Rudy Gobert are already fantastic. I'll be watching them closely.