SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 10: Rodney Hood #5 and Gordon Hayward #20 of the Utah Jazz shake hands during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 10, 2017 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Emptying the Noggin — Jazz get super win against a super team

By David Locke, Utah Jazz

Summary: In a tremendous basketball game, the Utah Jazz prevailed over the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 100-92. The game had runs, defensive strategy, coaching moves and star level play in a nice win that was filled with entertainment.

·       There is no way I will be able to cover everything that happened in this game, here but here goes an attempt. From a game flow stand point, the game was even until the Jazz went on a 21-8 run to close the second quarter and led by 15 at the half. Then, Cavaliers went on a 17-0 run to take the lead in the third, and the Jazz answered on a 16-0 run and the Jazz led by nine going into the fourth quarter.

·       Impressively, the Jazz never let the Cavaliers in the game in the fourth quarter. Utah took the lead to 15 by the 8:37 mark and the Cavs didn’t get it down to single digits until the 3:54 mark when they got it within eight. That lead was trimmed to six points, but Rodney Hood answered with an enormous three and that was it for the world champs.

·       The key moment of the game happens with the score at 35-33 in the second quarter. Quin Snyder opted to go small, bringing in Joe Ingles to play with Hayward, Hood and Hill. This was done to combat the pick and roll coverage of the Cavaliers and the game changed. The Jazz went on a 21-8 run to close the second quarter. The Cavaliers stayed big the entire time with Thompson and Love on the floor with LeBron at the small forward. The Cavs were trapping the pick and roll ball handler with two men and the Jazz were able to get the ball out of the double team and then move the ball well enough that they got open looks. They hit Rudy a few times and then hit three three-point shots (Hood made two and Hill one) to take the 15-point halftime lead.

·       The key to this is getting the ball out of the trap and the Jazz guards did a nice job with that.

·       The Cavaliers got the game down to one in the third quarter and Joe Ingles entered the game again with the same small lineup as the second quarter and the same thing happened.  LeBron was rolling at this point — and I MEAN ROLLING!!!! He was terrific. By the end of the quarter, the Jazz were up 75-66 and had taken control of the game.

·       As I mentioned, LeBron was killing it. He had 12 points in the first 5:12 of the third quarter. From the time the Jazz went small with Ingles and Hayward defending LeBron, LeBron went 1 for 4 from the field. Ingles had the assignment for most of the possessions.

·       Gordon Hayward answered LeBron with his own run. With the game tied at 60-60, Hayward hit a shot to make it 62-60 with 5:47 left. He wasn’t done. He hit back-to-back threes to make 68-60 on his own personal 8-0 run. Hayward scored 10 points in 3:30 to take control of the game.

·       Rodney Hood hit numerous big fourth quarter shots and had 10 fourth quarter points. It was great for Rod, who has been struggling.

·       The Jazz’s small defensive lineup got the Cavaliers out of their game as they tried to post Love, so they played more one on one and the offense wasn’t its usual machine.

·       The Jazz instituted three different pick and roll coverages tonight depending on personnel. I am sure the Cavs know what they are at this point, but just in case, I will leave out the details. What is impressive is over the course of the game, I only saw the Jazz blow the coverages about three times. This is hard depending on what personnel was involved in the play the Jazz changed what they were doing and possible where it was on the floor. It can be hard for players to remember all the personnel, so if player X is involved, I do this and if it is player Y, I do this, but if it’s Z, then it is another coverage. This seemed to break the Cavs from their rhythm. As the night went on, it felt like the Cavs figured out some of the Jazz approaches and then the Jazz defense executed well enough to get stops.

·       This is a player’s league, and if Rodney doesn’t make shots and Gordon doesn’t have the amazing end to the third, the Jazz don’t win. This game was a real testament to the what Quin Snyder and his coaching staff are able to do in preparation and what they are able to get their players to do in the midst of a highly emotional game.

·       The other Quin Snyder move was calling a play for a corner three for Rodney Hood at one of the biggest moments of the game. Not only did it work, but it is the type of play where a coach buys a lot of loyalty from a player.

·       Hayward shot 10 of 12 for 28 points. He also had 9 rebounds.

·       Quin Snyder complimented the wing play defensively.

This is a super win for the Jazz. They were 6-12 against above .500 teams going into tonight.  Now, they play 11 games that are all possible wins on the schedule. This could be a spark to a streak.