Antawn Jamison raises for two of his 22 points in Tuesday's loss.|
Before Tuesday’s matchup with the Jazz, Byron Scott’s biggest concern was Utah’s ability to pound it in the post. Those concerns became a reality later that night.
Utah’s burly frontcourt duo of Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap combined to go 22-of-27 from the floor, withering the Wine and Gold in the second half and sending the Cavs to their second straight loss for the first time this season – falling 113-105 to the Jazz in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz shot a gaudy 59 percent on the evening, with Jefferson mauling Cleveland with 30 points and 12 boards – going 13-for-17 from the floor. Big Al did the majority of his damage in the third quarter – netting 14 points against the duo of Anderson Varejao and Semih Erden.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of understanding we’ve got to be a little bit more aggressive, be a little more physical,” said Byron Scott. “We can’t leave guys on an island. I thought we left Andy (Varejao) out there at times by himself. And when Al (Jefferson) has it going like that I don’t think there’s anybody in this league that can stop him.”
The Cavaliers went into the half without scoring a field goal in the final 5:12 of the second quarter, but their offense awoke after intermission – notching 37 points in the period. Unfortunately, Jefferson and the Jazz put up 33.
Antawn Jamison led the Cavs with 22 points on 7-of-18 shooting. Kyrie Irving reached the 20-point plateau for the second straight game, going an even 7-of-14 from the floor and adding five assists while battling foul trouble all night.
“They had a two headed monster tonight – they had Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap,” said Irving. “We tried to make the adjustments as much as possible. Give credit to them, they did a great job executing in the post.”
Anderson Varejao doubled-up with 12 points and a team-high 11 boards. Ramon Sessions added 11 points and Alonzo Gee netted eight of his 10 points in the first quarter before encountering foul troubles of his own.
The Cavaliers west coast junket rolls on as the Wine and Gold travel to Phoenix to take on Steve Nash and the Suns on Thursday night.
Tristan Thompson is the Cavs specialist in SportsCenter blocked shots (and he did smush a Devin Harris runner in the fourth), but Omri Casspi had the swat of the evening, harshly rebuking a Gordon Hayward offering with 8:15 left in the third that led to a Kyrie Irving trey on the other end.
Anderson Varejao turned in his fourth straight game of double-digit boards – the longest stretch of his career. The Wild Thing has also turned in two double-doubles in his last three games.
Center Semih Erden got his first significant minutes of the season on Tuesday night. The Turkish big man had been recovering from a broken left thumb and saw his first action in garbage time on Sunday night at the Rose Garden. On Tuesday, he and Thompson were the first bigs off the bench. But Erden didn’t fare much better than Varejao did against Al Jefferson and finished with two points, a rebound and four fouls in 17 minutes.
Samardo Samuels celebrated his 23rd birthday on Monday, but didn’t do much celebration the following night. The former Cardinal got a DNP-CD on Tuesday night in Utah.
Alonzo Gee did a little celebrating of his own on Monday – watching his Alabama Crimson Tide run roughshod over LSU for the National Championship. With the high-pressure stakes, he didn’t join his teammates, who watched together in the hotel lobby.
“I watched in my room, I wanted to keep it low-key, in-house,” Gee laughed. “But by the fourth quarter, I was looking for guys to talk to!”
For just the second time this season, the Cavaliers allowed more fastbreak points (13) than they scored (10). A west coast trip against Western Conference teams will have that effect on a club.
The Cavaliers and Jazz rank among the bottom of the league in terms of scoring from their starters. Utah’s first five average just 49.9 points per game, Cleveland’s, 53.8. But on Tuesday, both teams got good production from their starters (Utah – 66; Cleveland – 67) and their benches (Utah – 47; Cleveland – 38).
Before the game, Anthony Parker talked about being hooked on, what many feel is the best show on TV – “Breaking Bad.” And he vowed to get his road dog, Anderson Varejao hooked on the ensuing flight to Phoenix and beyond.
Coach Scott picked up his first technical of the year on Tuesday, racing almost down to the opposite three-point arc after Parker was called for a travel late in the fourth.
Utah’s eight-point victory nearly registers as a blowout in the ultra-tight Cavaliers-Jazz series since 2006-07. In the 10 games before Tuesday, the two clubs split at five games apiece, with the average scoring in those games 97.9 for Cleveland and 98.1 for the Jazz.