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Utah Jazz 94 Cleveland Cavaliers 85 Game Recap: No Gordon Hayward, No Problem!

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Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, on National TV (ESPN), the Utah Jazz played without Gordon Hayward (SF/SG), Alec Burks (SG/PG), and Dante Exum (PG/SG) -- three of their best wing capable players -- against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and beat them fair and square 94-85. There's just so much to this win, beyond the solid to stellar night for Raul Neto, Trey Lyles, Joe Ingles, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Shelvin Mack, and Rodney Hood.

Playing without Hayward really hurts the team because of what a great season he is having, and how well he is playing. And the team overcame that. Playing against LeBron without all those wing players, and LeBron has made a career out of torching the Jazz is bad. And the team overcame that too. But the big one for me is that Cleveland was just on fire leading up to this game. They had won three in a row, and six of their last seven, and 12 of their last 16 games. They had scored in triple digits in seven straight games, all in 48 minutes of action. And they even blasted off for 120 points in THREE of their last FIVE games. In the preview I suggested that the Jazz would to play defense tonight against a very high scoring team. And the team overcame that as well.

I am really proud of this Jazz team, this is a foundation building win for this squad. This game meant something to Cleveland too. They are trying to hold off the Raptors. The Jazz just wanted it more tonight.

The runs in this game where something, but it was encouraging to me to see the Jazz play a very tight game that was set by a rubber band. The game started tied. The first quarter ended with a +2 advantage for Utah. The second quarter ended with a +2 advantage for Utah.

The third quarter ended with a +4 advantage for Cleveland. The game started the fourth quarter tied as a result.

It was that fourth quarter that I can't wait to watch again as soon as possible. The Cavs got into it and took the lead on a Matthew Dellavedova three pointer in the first seconds of the final frame. The bad guys had worked their way back and you could feel a let down coming if the team wallowed in their efforts. They weren't going to wallow at all. The game was slowing down, but the Jazz weren't content to just let the better team run away with it, even if it took them nearly one and a half minutes to get on the board in the 4th.

Utah was digging in, and not letting them get anything inside early. Cleveland's first four shots in the fourth were from distance. And for the quarter Cleveland, on the last game of a long Western Conference road trip, would shoot only 2/16 in the entire quarter from deep. That could have changed the game a bit, you know, if they weren't missing all of the shots. But if we're playing in make-believe-land, it could have changed the game if Hayward was playing. Or if maybe Dante Exum wasn't injured for an entire year . . . but I digress.

It was a back-and-forth quarter until the Jazz started dialing long distance (a phrase I immediately recognize is now meaningless to the younger generation . . . who no longer make calls with a rotary phone that has a dial, nor do they have any concept that in the old days you needed assistance from an actual human operator to actually call someone who lived in a different area code).

Trey Lyles was a problem for Cleveland with his outside shooting so they gooned him and got a double ejection out of it.

I'm proud of our team, how they held the fort early in the fourth, and then extended the lead back out of range of all of the Cavs misses. Cleveland gave up the ghost. Let's not forget that the Jazz could have swept the Cavs this year if Rudy didn't get injured in that game months ago. And while I'm saying the Cavs gave up the ghost, they didn't pull their players. Right until the end we had LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and crew on the floor -- getting dey az beat by the un-hip, zero-star Jazz.

It's a great day to be a Jazz fan.

  • Shelvin Mack: 17 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 3/5 from deep (again!)
  • Rodney Hood: 28 points off of just 16 shots, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 4/9 from deep, 6/6 from the stripe
  • Joe Ingles: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2/5 from deep in the start
  • Derrick Favors: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal, 5/7 from the stripe
  • Rudy Gobert: 6 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, no blocks, but was huge +18 in +/- to lead the team tonight

  • Raul Neto: 7 points, 3/4 and 1/1 -- not perfect, but we honestly can't expect him to shoot 100% for the rest of the season. We'd love it, though. Also 3 assists, no turn overs, and 2 rebounds
  • Trey Burke: 3 minutes
  • Chris Johnson: zero points, 0/4 from the floor, 0/3 from deep, 1 rebound
  • Trevor Booker: 0 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block
  • Trey Lyles, 12 points in 13 minutes off of 8 shots. 2/4 from deep, with a rebound and steal and a +/- of +12. Rook has earned more minutes.

DNP-CD for Jeff Withey. Injuries to Gordon Hayward, Dante Exum, and Alec Burks. Tibor Pleiss lost somewhere in Idaho contemplating the essense of potato.

Like the Sacramento Kings game the Jazz played great. And they played for 48 minutes. And they won the game. This time they extended the lead after squandering it in the fourth. In the other game they held them off.

Two different types of wins. Both very necessary at this point in the season.

Utah has a few days off before facing the Phoenix Suns at home, on Thursday.