The Cleveland Cavaliers took care of business yet again as they defeated the Utah Jazz 109-100. While the Cavs never were able to completely pull away, they were able to counter everything Utah threw at them and won with a solid team performance.
The game got off to a physical start, as the refs let a lot of contact go on the inside. The Jazz didn’t look like a team on a second night of a back to back, as they came out of the game firing and playing with intensity on the defensive end.
As you could probably expect, the play of LeBron James was the catalyst for the Cavs first half success. Whenever possible, he pushed the pace and tried to create easy opportunities for himself and teammates.
What was less predictable was the strong play from Jae Crowder. The team found him cutting to the basket for some easy looks on the inside. Plus, he knocked down his lone first half three to give the team nine points in the first half.
Utah managed to keep the game within reach throughout the third quarter. Donovan Mitchell and Thabo Sefolosha, in particular, were very strong as they responded to almost all of the Cavs momentum building shots. Mitchell got off to a lackluster start, but adjusted as the game progressed and simply refused to go away.
The small forwards were the story of the fourth quarter. Cedi Osman put in the best game of his NBA career, as he played with high energy, knocked down a pair of threes and was rewarded with clutch minutes by Tyronn Lue. Osman punctuated his stellar performance by coming away with a steal off of Mitchell in the final minute of the game, which lead to a pair of free throws by LeBron. He also set new career highs in both minutes played and points.
Kyle Korver also provided his usual firepower, by knocking down two threes in the fourth quarter. And of course, LeBron came up clutch as the Cavs put away a pesky Jazz club.
- It’s nice to see Tristan Thompson contribute with some positive minutes. He had two nice finishes on lobs as well as two rebounds, a steal, and a block. It was noticeable that he wasn’t moving freely around the court. He would hop before he started running and appeared labored at times. Managing his health and his return appears to be a process.
- The Jazz are a really well coached team and it’s incredible how they use ball movement to help make up for the injuries they are dealing with. While they still have some solid talents, their flaws are effectively hid by schemes on both ends of the floor.
- One victim of the physicality of this game was Love. He was visibly frustrated by holds throughout the night and his criticisms fell on deaf ears. His scoring wasn’t necessarily inefficient, as he finished with 15 points on 7-14 shooting. But he wasn’t rewarded with the regular trips to the line we’ve seen him receive this season, and was never able to truly get going.
- Jeff Green was superb, scoring 11 points on 3-4 shooting. There was a scary moment, however, as he appeared to tweak his shoulder fighting through a screen. He continued playing, but seemed to continue to favor it until he was removed from the lineup.