What a difference a year makes. Last year’s thrilling game between these two teams ended with an unbelievable comeback and unforgettable final shot from a guy who was riding a 10-day contract from the D-league.
Without LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, the Cavaliers picked up where they left off in their previous game – a 55 point beat down by the Lakers on Tuesday – by giving up 70 first-half points to the Jazz. It was the most prolific half for the Jazz since their famous 72 point second half against the Miami Heat in November.
No comeback was required tonight. Instead, the Jazz put on a nice show for the fans – including a fast break behind-the-back-a-thon from Earl Watson to Andrei Kirilenko to a trailing Ronnie Price, sending the crowd into pandemonium. The energy in the building was remarkably high considering the lack of energy from the Cavs.
All Jazz starters scored in double figures for just the seventh time this season, with Deron Williams leading the way with 26. CJ Miles also scored 20 off the bench and attacked the basket with impressive ferocity. He was fouled on several attempts but several times had the ball cuffed, ready to throw down something spectacular. Even Al Jefferson finished a few moves with a dunk rather than settling for his typical shot-put.
On the Cleveland side, Antawn Jamison did the heavy lifting with 26 points and 11 rebounds, while J.J. Hickson cleaned up in the sloppy second half and picked up 21 and 14. Jazz alum Mo Williams remembered his time in Utah fondly, saying “I will always have great memories from here. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start my career.”
The most important performance of the night came courtesy of the Red Panda, the acrobat who catches and balances bowls on her head while riding a 10-foot unicycle (as seen above). I’ve always said that players who miss free throws should be forced to watch her in action. If they aren’t inspired by her incredible attention to detail, at least they might be shamed into concentrating a bit at the free throw line.
Next week the Jazz make a crazy four-game road trip through the Eastern Conference before returning home for a Tuesday night affair with the Lakers at home. Next game is an early 11AM MST start in DC against the Wizards on MLK day. Don’t sleep in.
Next game: Jazz at Wizards
11:00 AM MST / Verizon Center