It's hard for the Cleveland Cavaliers to win games when they struggle on offense, and it's even harder when the two players that struggle the most for them are Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
A day after beating the Los Angeles Clippers in convincing fashion, the Cavs got exactly what they didn't need out of Irving and Love, and the rest of the offense struggled to score points as well. The result? A 94-85 loss at the hands of the Utah Jazz.
After three straight games of scoring at least 111 points (and probably would have been more had they played their starters in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers), the Cavs couldn't get much of anything going on the offensive end, outside of LeBron James. As a team, the Cavs shot 39.8 percent from the field, and were hurt by poor games from their three best non-James offensive players: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith. The three combined for only 34 points on 13-of-46 shooting from the field.
Of those three, Irving had by far the worst game on the offensive end. He couldn't get anything to fall despite getting plenty of good looks and getting the shots he normally gets -- attacking the rim, midrange pull-up jumpers and a number of three-pointers, including a few open looks from behind the arc. Overall, he was 7-of-23 from the field and 1-of-9 from behind the arc, chronicling both the Cavs struggles to score and their inability to connect from behind the arc.
Not only did Irving, as well as Smith, fail to hit shots, but they were also outplayed by their Jazz counterparts. Guards Shelvin Mack and Rodney Hood combined for 45 points, and did so by taking five loss shots than the Cleveland backcourt.
The biggest strength for the Cavs over the course of their first three games of the road trip was the three-pointer. Against the Jazz tonight, however, the Cavs were only able to hit 23.2 percent of their 42 three-pointers tonight. Utah, on the other hand, connected on 12-of-their-27 three-point attempts, and used the three-ball to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter.
After Irving hit a midrange jumper with 9:22 left in the game to give the Cavs a 71-70 lead, the Jazz would hit four three-pointers on their next eight possessions, with a corner three from Joe Ingles capping off a 16-2 run by the Jazz and give them a 13-point lead with just over four minutes left in the game, a lead that would be too large for the Cavs to overcome with the way their offense had been playing over the course of the night.
This is the second time in two weeks in which the Cavs came off of a big Sunday road win only to fall to a below-.500 team the following day. This one, however, comes with more of an excuse than the previous one, where they fell to the Detroit Pistons at home a day after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder without Irving for most of the game.
Tonight, the Cavs were on the end of a four-game West Coast road trip in a spot that isn't too kind for those coming into the game with that type of circumstances.
Even with the loss, the Cavs finish the West Coast road trip at 3-1 and still holding a 2.5-game lead over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference.