SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 12: Eric Paschall #0 of the Utah Jazz slam dunks the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of their game on January 12, 2022 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

"We Fought And Competed" | Jazz Show Heart In Loss

Playing severely shorthanded, Utah knew it would face an uphill battle on Wednesday night against Cleveland. Despite showing lots of fight, the Jazz fell 111-91

With nine players out, including their four tallest players on the roster, the Utah Jazz knew they would face an uphill battle on Wednesday night against Cleveland, the tallest team in the league. 

But anyone who knows the Jazz knows that this is a team that does not roll over for anybody — and Wednesday proved more of the same. Despite being severely short-handed, the Jazz battled all night before falling 111-91 to the visiting Cavaliers. 

“First of all, we competed given the circumstances,” Donovan Mitchell said postgame. “We can’t complain about that. … We fought and competed. There are things to take away, both good and bad, but we’ll be fine.”

Echoing what Mitchell said postgame, Eric Paschall is somebody who head coach Quin Snyder says always plays with great effort. That was no different against Cleveland as Paschall found success in the first half and single-handedly kept the Jazz alive. 

He finished with 18 points, the third time he’s scored in double figures over the past four games. He shot 8-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, using his strength and quickness to overpower the bigger Cavaliers down in the post.

“He’s playing well. … He’s played well both when he’s been at the four and tonight when he was more at the five,” Snyder said of Paschall. “One of the things he’s doing a good job is making a good read when he’s got a catch-and-shoot three in the corner. … He’s attacking off the dribble and getting to the rim. I’m pleased with how Eric’s playing and the energy he’s bringing to the game, you can feel him when he’s on the court.”

Jordan Clarkson also found success Wednesday night, finishing with a team-high 22 points. He shot 8-of-17 from the floor and 4-of-11 from three-point territory, using his quickness and shot-creativity to get open consistently. 

With no true centers available, it meant that Snyder would have to get creative with his roster. 

He started 6-foot-5 Royce O’Neale at center, electing to spread the floor initially to counteract Cleveland’s size of three seven-footers in its starting lineup. 

The results early on weren’t great as the Jazz had trouble dealing with Cleveland’s size before settling into the game. But once they found a rhythm on offense, Utah proved that regardless of who’s on the court, the offensive system they run is elite. 

After falling behind 11 early in the opening quarter, the Jazz went on a 13-2 run to tie the game late in the first. 

Cleveland started the second quarter on fire again, jumping out to a 14-point lead with 5:45 to play in the half. 

But never to be counted out, Utah rallied once again. On the strength of five straight points by Paschall, 16 total in the first half, the Jazz went on a 13-3 run to go into the break trailing 58-52. 

Utah kept it close early in the third quarter after back-to-back three-pointers by Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic made it a four-point game. But that was as close as the Jazz would get the rest of the way as Cleveland’s size and depth were able to win out in the end.

“We’ve habitually play pick-and-roll with our five, so not having a five can impact that,” Snyder said postgame. “The first half wasn’t perfect, but we missed a lot of open shots. I thought in the third quarter, it was a four-point game at one point, and then they went on that run. … We’ve got to run and attack the rim and create for each other, and we didn’t do that consistently enough.”

Mitchell added 17 points, five rebounds, and four assists while Mike Conley chipped in 12 points. O’Neale finished with just six points but added a team-high nine rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block. 

Darius Garland finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists for Cleveland, while Evan Mobley added 15 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.

The Jazz have three days off before hitting the road again for a brutal back-to-back, set to begin on Sunday against Denver before concluding on Monday against the Lakers. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. MST against the Nuggets.

“I’m not upset about the effort we gave tonight, I don’t think any of us are,” Mitchell said.

On a brighter note, in honor of Filipino Heritage Night on Jan. 19, the Jazz are offering upper-bowl tickets, which includes a limited-edition Filipino Night T-shirt (sizes subject to availability), for just $25. For those wanting to purchase the package but for seats in the lower bowl, prices start at $120. To purchase tickets, click HERE.

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