The Utah Jazz were getting a classic Montreal Screwjob early on in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of this game, but failed to back down to the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James is fantastic, as documented earlier on this site, so fantastic that it's probably not necessary for his team to get 43 free throw attempts in a game. A game, mind you, that the Cavs won by the slimmest of margins, 118-114. I've very proud of how our team played, particularly our bigmen Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, and our bench unit that stood their ground to close out the 3rd quarter and go into the fourth with it all tied up 80-80. Utah even had a nine point lead over Cleveland in the fourth; however, LeBron James turned it up a few notches and willed his team to victory -- which is what you want from a star player. He finished with 31 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. In a direction comparison, our star Gordon Hayward finished with 17 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals. The difference? LeBron got to the line 12 times, Gordon only 4.
And that seems to be a major complaint all season long for Jazz observers. Our guys are not getting to the line when getting fouled. I don't think Quin Snyder cares about that (to his players), and has instilled in them a desire to fight through all obstacles and go out there -- win or loss -- with a maximum of effort. I love how hard this team played today -- even Rudy Gobert who was seriously hurt came back in to patrol the paint.
Trey Burke and Alec Burks came off the bench to score 40 points. They went a combined 13/25 overall, and 6/8 from deep, while nailing 8/8 of their freebies. You gotta love that. They also added 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals. That's not to say that the starters weren't balling. They were. Raul Neto didn't score, again, but did finish with 5 assists and 2 steals in 13 minutes of action.
Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert were big, as expected, but Cleveland had bigs too. Utah finished this game without a block, somehow. But everyone left it all out on the floor. You gotta love this team.
Utah plays next on the 12th, and then again on the 13th -- a back-to-back set against the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. This was a great "look at us now" moment for the young Jazz on one of the biggest stages. Their road trip will continue to shine light on their play; and I hope they will continue to impress.
I believe in them. And everyone cross your fingers for Rudy Gobert -- I hope he is not seriously injured. Also, eff those refs!