Antawn Jamison notched 22 points in Cleveland's loss on Monday night.
David Liam Kyle (NBAE/Getty Images)
On Monday night, the Cavaliers started out well and closed with a flurry. It’s the in-between stuff that sealed their sixth straight loss.
Trailing the Jazz by just a deuce after one quarter, the Cavaliers netted just 15 points in the second. Utah took that double-digit lead into the locker room and – save a late-game rally by the Wine and Gold – cruised to the 109-100 victory over Cleveland at The Q.
Kyrie Irving scored 21 of his 22 points in the second half on Monday, and his late push got Cleveland to within striking distance in the closing moments. Trailing by 15 – 102-87 – with just 3:35 to play, Irving scored on two quick layups. After a pair of buckets by Antawn Jamison, Irving scored on another lay-in and then fed Alonzo Gee, whose dunk got Cleveland to within five – 105-100.
But Gordon Hayward and Al Jefferson sunk their free throws on the other end and the Wine and Gold fell for the fifth time since the All-Star break.
“We played really hard for about six to seven minutes,” lamented Coach Scott. “I thought the beginning of the game, we were just so-so. The second quarter was even worse. The third quarter was okay. I thought the last five to six minutes of the game, we played with what I call a sense of urgency, which I talked to them about at halftime. But that’s not good enough.”
Antawn Jamison joined Irving with 22 points, going 8-for-18 from the floor with four boards and a team-high six assists. Kyrie was 10-of-19 from the floor with four boards, four assists and no turnovers in almost 32 minutes of play.
“Going on to the next game, I think we’re all pissed off – and it has to show out there on the court,” said Irving. “There is some optimism and we’ve just got to get a win. It just boils down to us playing hard for 48 minutes.”
Alonzo Gee added 15 points, going 3-for-5 from three-point range and pitching in with four boards, three assists and a blocked shot. Ramon Sessions was the only other Cavalier in double-figures with 14 points off Byron Scott’s bench.
The Jazz frontline out-muscled the Wine and Gold in a January 10 loss in Utah and did more of the same on Monday. Al Jefferson led both teams with 25 points, 13 boards, seven assists and three blocks. The Jazz beat Cleveland up on the boards, 46-30, and nearly doubled them up on the break. Second-year swingman, Gordon Hayward, came off the bench to score 23 points.
The Cavaliers hit the road for a pair to close out the week – traveling to Denver for a Wednesday matchup with the Nuggets and to Oklahoma City for a Friday night tilt with Kevin Durant and the Thunder.
- Following Monday’s matchup, the Cavaliers hosted a Jewish Heritage Postgame Celebration in the lower bowl area. Omri Casspi, the first Israeli player ever taken in the first round, stopped by to answer some young fans’ questions.
- Tristan Thompson led the Cavaliers with three blocked shots on Monday – the fifth time this season Thompson has swatted three shots in a ballgame.
- Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter and Thompson on the floor together represented three of the first four picks in this past June’s Draft. Among rookies, Tristan and Kanter are 1-2 in rebounding, averaging 6.0 and 5.0 boards per contest, respectively.
- Irving is trying to be one of just four active players to average 18-plus ppg and 5-plus apg in his rookie season. Kyrie (18.5 ppg, 5.2 apg) would match the feat accomplished by Tyreke Evans, LeBron James and Grant Hill.
- The Jazz hove now taken five straight against the Cavaliers.
- Antawn Jamison has really picked up his game since the beginning of February. In December/January, he averaged 14.9 points, 5.1 boards and 1.7 assists per contest. In February/March, he’s averaging 21.6 points, 8.7 boards and 2.1 helpers per game. He’s had five double-doubles in that span – zero in the previous two months.