Road-Weary Cavs Fall in Utah

Three Cavs Score 20+ but Third Quarter Spells Loss in Salt Lake City
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Wrap-Up -- After three difficult outings out West, a one-game stopover in frigid Cleveland – where the Cavaliers have won 12 straight – might be just what the Wine & Gold need right now.

Coming into the roadie as the hottest squad in the East, the Cavaliers cooled off out West, dropping three straight contests – capped by Saturday night’s disappointing 104-101 loss to the Jazz at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Late turnovers, a terrible start to the third quarter and Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell spelled defeat for the Cavaliers who, in now four tries, have yet to win a game in Salt Lake City since LeBron James' return in 2014.

James, celebrating his 33rd birthday, got off to a strong start, but like the rest of his teammates, struggled mightily in that third quarter – one which saw the Jazz outscore the Wine & Gold, 23-3, before Cleveland finally found its footing.

LeBron led the Cavaliers with 29 points, but he was matched by Mitchell – maybe the most explosive rookie from this year’s class – who followed his 26-point effort against Cleveland in a December 16 loss at The Q with a 29-point performance in Utah, netting 11 of his team-high 29 points in the final quarter.

For his part, LeBron notched nine of his 29 in the fourth period – going 12-for-22 from the floor overall, but just 1-of-7 from long-range, adding eight boards, six assists, two steals and a block. Unfortunately, James also led both squads with six turnovers, including three in the fourth.

Kevin Love doubled-up with 20 points and 10 boards, going 6-for-16 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the stripe.

Cleveland’s other three starters – Jose Calderon, JR Smith and Jae Crowder – combined for just eight points on 3-for-11 shooting. Utah’s backcourt alone, meanwhile, combined for 45 points, 14 boards and 14 assists in the win.

The Cavaliers did get very good production off the bench – namely from Jeff Green, who bounced back from a pair of rough outings in the first two games of the trip with a 22-point effort on Saturday, going 6-of-12 from the floor, including 4-for-4 from beyond the arc and 6-of-6 from the line to go with five boards and a pair of blocks.

Dwyane Wade had a strong floor game – finishing with nine points, seven boards and four assists while Tristan Thompson had perhaps his best game of the season, notching double-figures for the first time this campaign with 11 points on a perfect 4-for-4 night, adding five boards and two blocks.

On the night the Cavaliers shot 42 percent from the floor – their third straight game of 43 percent or less – going 12-for-30 from the stripe. And even without the presence of Rudy Gobert, the Jazz outdid Cleveland in the paint, 52-38, and on second-chance scoring, 16-2.

Kevin Love


Three Cavs score 20+ but it's not enough to get the win in Utah.

Turning Point -- One leaf through the boxscore will explain where Saturday night’s game was lost.

The Wine & Gold led by 10 after one quarter and were up, 53-48, after two. But it all came undone out of the halftime locker room as the Jazz would proceed to score the first 10 points of the second half. JR Smith’s three-pointer briefly stopped the bleeding, but didn’t close the wound.

Before the Cavaliers got back into the game, the Jazz had completed a 23-3 run, opening up a 15-point lead that had Tyronn Lue’s squad in catch-up mode the rest of the night.

In the period, Cleveland’s starters managed just three points and, as a team, shot just 21 percent, going 4-for-19 from the floor.

By the Numbers46.3 … average combined point, rebound and assist averages for LeBron James this season – tops all-time for a player 33 years or older. Wilt Chamberlain is next at 43.2 with Elgin Baylor (42.8) rounding out the top three.

QuotableLeBron James, on the Cavaliers’ current three-game funk …

”I think it’s just a season of ups and downs. Hopefully we can figure it back out. I don’t know where we kind of went wrong, but we have to figure it out, like we did the first time.”

Up Next -- After falling in three straight, the Cavaliers get a brief reprieve at home – welcoming the Blazers to town on Tuesday night – before getting right back on the road for a five-game, 10-day trip beginning the very next night. The junket begins in Boston, where the Cavs will take on Kyrie Irving and the Celtics in the mid-week back-to-back. From there it’s on to Orlando for a meeting with the Magic on Saturday night. Two nights later, the Cavs square off against the Minnesota Timberwolves before wrapping up the trip with a back-to-back against the Raptors next Thursday followed by a Friday night showdown with the Pacers in Indy.

Calls of the Game

#CavsJazz Postgame: Kevin Love - December 30, 2017

Cavaliers center Kevin Love spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Cavs at Jazz - December 30, 2017

Scroll Video up Scroll Video down Scroll Video left Scroll Video right

#CavsJazz Postgame: Kevin Love - December 30, 2017

Cavaliers center Kevin Love spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Dec 30, 2017  |  02:16

#CavsJazz Postgame: Jeff Green - December 30, 2017

Cavaliers forward Jeff Green spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Dec 30, 2017  |  01:53

#CavsJazz Postgame: LeBron James - December 30, 2017

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Dec 30, 2017  |  03:52

#CavsJazz Postgame: Coach Lue - December 30, 2017

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media following Saturday's loss to the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
Dec 30, 2017  |  03:33

LeBron James Scores 29 at Jazz

LeBron James puts on a show on his 33rd birthday with 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Dec 30, 2017  |  02:05

GAME RECAP: Jazz 104, Cavaliers 101

Donovan Mitchell balled out for the Jazz scoring 29 points and dishing 6 assists in a 104-101 win over the Cavaliers. LeBron James recorded 29 points and 8 rebounds for Cleveland in the loss.
Dec 30, 2017  |  01:45

LBJ with the Tough And-One

LeBron James draws the contact and throws in the tough bucket, plus the foul.
Dec 30, 2017  |  00:11

Green with the Fancy Finish

Jeff Green gets out in transition and steps through the defense for the pretty finish.
Dec 30, 2017  |  00:15

Tristan Says 'Get That Weak Stuff Outta Here'

The Jazz think they have an easy layup but Tristan Thompson tracks down the shot attempt and sends it back.
Dec 30, 2017  |  00:09

LeBron Cans the Fadeaway at the Buzzer

LeBron James sinks the fadeaway jumper as the first half comes to a close.
Dec 30, 2017  |  00:16

Calderon Dimes LBJ

Jose Calderon finds a cutting LeBron James for the easy flush.
Dec 30, 2017  |  00:11

Tristan Skies High for the Finish

Tristan Thompson soars to snatch the alley-oop dish from Dwyane Wade in this Goodyear 'More Driven' highlight.
Dec 30, 2017  |  00:14

DWade Dimes Jeff Green for the Slam

Dwyane Wade finds a cutting Jeff Green for the flush.
Dec 30, 2017  |  00:12

Featured Highlight: DWade Lobs LBJ

Dwyane Wade throws the pretty high-handoff to LeBron James for the monster alley-oop finish.
Dec 30, 2017  |  00:09

LBJ Rocks the Rim

LeBron James wows the crowd with his baseline slam.
Dec 30, 2017  |  00:11

#CavsJazz Shootaround: LeBron James - December 30, 2017

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media prior to Saturday's shootaround at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.
Dec 30, 2017  |  07:47

#CavsJazz Shootaround: Coach Lue - December 30, 2017

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue spoke with the media prior to Saturday's shootaround at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.
Dec 30, 2017  |  02:35

Practice: Isaiah Thomas - December 29, 2017

Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas spoke with the media prior to Friday's practice at St. Helena High School in Napa Valley.
Dec 29, 2017  |  05:56

Practice: LeBron James - December 29, 2017

Cavaliers forward LeBron James spoke with the media prior to Friday's practice at St. Helena High School in Napa Valley.
Dec 29, 2017  |  05:13