The Utah Jazz just couldn't miss in the first quarter. The Jazz started the game leading 10-2, and everyone was making threes: Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, Richard Jefferson . . . it was one of the more fun quarters to watch as the team plays almost perfect, unselfish basketball. The first quarter ended with a crazy Alec Burks coast-to-coast layup. The Jazz were up 27-20 after one. Everyone looked pretty good except for Trey Burke. Of course, the Cleveland Cavaliers were right there, this was no blowout.
It almost became a wipe-out as the second quarter was punctuated by so many turn overs and sloppy play from both teams. Veteran forward Luol Deng got Cleveland going in the second quarter taking and making shots during that hesitant period after the initial break, but before the Cavaliers set up their offense. Tyler Zeller and Spencer Hawes were big and made it hard for the Jazz bigs to score inside -- Favors would finish the half 0-5. So that's a plus for them, but the Cavs were not playing that flawless game that we say against Oklahoma City the other night. In the first half they just couldn't make any of their open threes. They had countless good looks. The Jazz made theirs and went 8-13 from downtown in the first half. The Cavs went 1-8. And yet the score at halfitme was 41-30 in favor of the Jazz. It's nice to have the lead at the half on the road, but it was hard not to think that we were really only up because of statistically improbable shooting.
At the half Kyrie Irving was pacing the Cavaliers with 6 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 block. Gordon Hayward had 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block.
Of course if you live by the three, you die by the three. And in the third quarter the three stopped falling for the Jazz. The Cavs had a much more diversified offense that continued their pick and roll / points in the paint parade and they started to make some shots as well. Kyrie Irving started to take control and did everything on offense. It's nights like this that help remind you why you want to get a Top 5 pick. The best players are the best players for a reason -- they win games. The Cavs ended up going on a 13-2 run during the middle of the third, and he was a huge reason for that.
For the Jazz Gordon Hayward still made shots and was trying to set players up. Favors finally made a shot at the 7:00 mark of the 3rd quarter. And Gordon didn't stop there, his dribble penetration was vital to the Jazz keeping it close. Ultimately, it was a Cavs third quarter where Zeller and Hawes continued to be really big and Deng outplaying whomever was guarding him. Cleveland was using size so well that Tyrone Corbin was even forced to play Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors at the same time. It didn't help. The Cavs got their outside shooting back and won the third quarter 30-19.
Cleveland started the fourth up 69-60. The Kyrie show continued. He had his first career triple double tonight. We don't need to get into it. The final score was 99-79.
- Gordon Hayward had another nice line, finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in 36 minutes.
- For the entire game (not just in the third) the Jazz did a great job making their threes. They went 14-29 for the game, with guys like Marvin, RJ, Gordo and others pitching in.
- Trey Burke didn't have a great game, but at least he didn't get physically hurt or anything. Just his pride.
- Did not implement a solid points in the paint game plan or adjustment to their defense.
- Alec Burks use the escape dribble a little too much, and took a fall-away shot instead of going into the paint / going to the line. His shooting was off, and instead of chucking up more shots he should have tried to get to the line more. I know the Cavs don't get called for a lot of fouls on their home court, but you gotta go with your best move.
- Some fan ran out onto the court in the late fourth, trying to get a high five from Kyrie. He got escorted out of there very efficiently.