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Emptying the Noggin — Jazz get MVP LeBron

By David Locke, Utah Jazz

Summary: The Jazz got LeBron-ed in Cleveland, again. With the game tied going into the fourth quarter, LeBron took over and scored or assisted on all but four points in the quarter to completely overwhelm the Jazz, 91-83.

• The Jazz never seemed in synch in the first half. In fact, Mike Wells said at halftime that he felt the Jazz couldn’t find a rhythm for the first 20 minutes of the game. Despite that, the Jazz were within two points at the half and were able to tie the game going into the fourth quarter.

• From a big picture standpoint, the take away tonight is against the number one offensive team in the NBA the last 20 games — and playing with Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw and Trey Lyles at the power forward — the Jazz were able to keep the Cavaliers below an offensive rating of. This is an exciting indicator for the Jazz’s ability to play small lineups moving forward.

• The Jazz’s defensive rebounding was not as good as it has been, but overall the defensive rating was great.

• The Jazz’s offense down the stretch was not great tonight, and they were very slow getting into sets.

• Rudy Gobert was terrific. I leave the arena each night believing he is a little better than was the night before. Tonight he went for 20 points, 19 rebounds, plus his ability to deter players from driving into the lane is stunning. Players just stay away from the paint when Rudy is in the game.

• The Jazz wanted to take away the 3-point looks from the Cavaliers similarly to how they played the Rockets, but the Cavaliers were able to get their usual amount of looks. However, they didn’t go down. The Cavaliers shoot 41% from 3 in wins and 35% in losses, so this game was there for the taking with the Cavs hitting on just 9 of 33 attempts for 27%.

• Gordon Hayward did not have a good night. He finished 4 for 14 and two of those were leak out dunks. He just never looked right all night. George Hill was 3 for 10 on the back end of a back-to-back. He has had a bit of a hard time on back-to-backs since the toe injury.

• LeBron James: 33 points, 10 rebounds (all defensive) and 6 assists. He hit on 13 of 20.

• Deron Williams closed the game since Kyrie Irving was out and the Cavs ran a point guard/LeBron pick-and-roll to get the Jazz to switch on LeBron, and then he just over powered whoever was guarding him.

• Without Rodney Hood and with both Gordon and George a bit off tonight, the Jazz tried to ride Joe Johnson in the fourth quarter.

• The Jazz had a bad offensive night. They played well enough defensively to win this game, but they never got rolling on offense and couldn’t knock down shots. To be in the game against as potent a team as Cleveland without your offense rolling is a good sign for Utah. It is a loss, but it does not to dissuade my belief that the Jazz are playing really well.

• There are two huge games coming up. The Clippers lost tonight, so Utah is still ahead three games in loss column on the Clippers, but both Thunder and Grizzlies got unexpected wins, making the Thunder three back in the loss column while owning the tiebreaker, and the Grizzlies are four games back of Utah, owning the tiebreaker. This means Utah is really only ahead of the Thunder by two games and three on the Grizzlies.