Final Dime: Jazz 121, Cavaliers 99
Jamario Moon rejects Utah's Paul Milsap on Friday night in Salt Lake City.
After trailing by just six after one quarter, the Jazz went on to put up 70 points before intermission. But the Cavaliers wouldn’t let them pull away – closing Utah’s edge to just six, 89-83, in the third. But the Jazz opened the fourth period with a 14-4 run – sending the Wine and Gold to the 121-99 loss.
The reeling Cavaliers have now dropped a dozen straight, with a mid-December overtime win over New York as the only thing separating them from a 23-game losing streak.
“I thought again, (in) the first half we just didn’t execute defensively at all,” said Coach Byron Scott. “Then in the second half, we did a much, much better job of executing on the defensive end. That got us a chance to get back into the game. But again, we’ve just got to understand that we’ve got to do that for 48 minutes.”
After their rough first half, the young Cavaliers settled down in the second stanza. They shot 54 percent from the floor, with Antawn Jamison and J.J. Hickson netting 16 and 15 points respectively after halftime.
Jamison bounced back from a rough outing in L.A., leading the Cavaliers with 26 points to go with 11 boards. Jamison was 10-of-19 from the floor, including 4-for-7 from beyond the arc.
Hickson had another solid outing at the center spot, doubling up with 21 points and a game-high 14 boards. Hickson was 8-of-13 from the field and matched Jamison with a pair of blocks, but did lead both squads with nine turnovers.
“I think, as a whole, we’ve got to do a better job staying focused for the full 48 – and I think we did a good job of that in the second half, especially in the third quarter,” said Hickson. “It’s tough just climbing up-hill the whole second half. But we’ll take what we did and roll with it.”
Cleveland got good production from its point guards as well on Friday. Mo Williams led everyone with 10 assists to go with his 14-point effort and Ramon Sessions came off Byron Scott’s bench to tally 15 points, six helpers and four boards.
For the game, Utah shot 53 percent to the Cavaliers’ 49. Cleveland outrebounded the Jazz and hit just one fewer three-pointer, but committed 21 turnovers to the Jazz’ 10 and shot just 57 percent from the stripe.
The Cavaliers close out their longest road trip of the campaign on Saturday night – completing the Rocky Mountain back-to-back when they travel to Denver to face Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets.
2. Daniel Gibson joined the squad on Tuesday night in L.A., but continues to rehab his left ankle and didn’t suit up on Friday night. Christian Eyenga bounced back from an ankle injury to play in the second half against L.A., but tweaked it in that game and will likely sit the rest of the trip.
3. Even with Tuesday’s six-point performance, Antawn Jamison is still having a fantastic 2011 – averaging 23.1 points per contest so far in January. Jamison has scored 20-plus in five of his last six games.
4. The Cavaliers are 5-5 in their last 10 meetings with the Jazz.
5. Mo Williams doubled-up for the ninth time this season and has notched double-digit assists in seven of his last 12 games.
6. Mo returned to the city where he was first drafted out of ‘Bama – 47th overall in 2003. Williams played one season with the Jazz, appearing in 57 games – averaging 5.0 points per contest – before departing as a free agent to Milwaukee.
7. The Jazz sport a few familiar faces for Cavaliers fans. Matt Harping, who played for the Cavs in 2000-01, is one of the Jazz color commentators. Tyrone Corbin, who played two seasons with the Cavaliers, is one of Jerry Sloan’s assistants. And Gary Briggs, the Cavaliers trainer for 18 years, now has that position with the Jazz.
8. Friday night’s contest with the Jazz was the 900th of Antawn Jamison’s stellar career. He becomes one of just 23 players to reach the 900-game plateau. Earlier this season, the 12-year vet became one of just three players in NBA history – along with Dirk Nowitzki and Scottie Pippen – to have 17,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 900 three-pointers.
9. Back in Spain, Eyenga didn’t use to tape his ankles pre-game, although his club used to focus on ankle strengthening during warm-ups. But after the high-flyer injured his ankle twice in a week, he now tapes before every game and intends to do so moving forward.
10. JJ Hickson registered his second double-double in last three games. Since getting a DNP-CD in the last game before Cleveland’s five-game roadie, Hickson is averaging 16.5 points and 11.0 boards per contest.