Jazz Lose to Cavs as the King Takes Over Late

December 16th, 2017 | by Allen Schowengerdt

Mitchell dunks on The Land. (game still)

LeBron James proved to be too much for the Jazz to handle. In an entertaining and competitive game, James’ Cavaliers ultimately pulled away from the Jazz, 109-100.

James logged a triple double with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists on 9-for-15 shooting and 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Despite those numbers, the Jazz actually performed very well while The King was on the floor. The Jazz were even in the 37 minutes that James played, but were outscored by nine in the 11 minutes that he sat. In order to win tough games like this on the road, you have to capitalize while the star players sit and the Jazz did not do that in Cleveland.

Another area that the Jazz fell short on Friday was on defense. The Cavs shot 53 percent from the field and just under 50 percent from three. It is simply going to be hard to win any time the opponent shoots like that. The Jazz were able to counter very well, making 17 of their own 34 long-range attempts, but were not able to convert well enough from two-point land or get the stops needed to win the game.

The Positives

Despite the loss, there was a lot to like from the Jazz on Friday. For starters, the depth that general manager Dennis Lindsey has been able to build on Utah’s roster stood out. The Jazz were missing their two starting bigs, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. In their absence, there were some impressive performances. Ekpe Udoh got the start at center and put together an all-around performance in his 33 minutes: nine points, seven rebounds, six blocks, three assists and three steals. The Jazz defense was visibly much better when he was in the game. Royce O’Neale had his best game shooting the ball with four threes, and Thabo Sefolosha put in another really impressive all-around performance.

Three-point shooting continues to be a huge plus for the Jazz.Shooting 17-of-34 from three will win most games for you. The Jazz entered the evening with a 10-3 record in games where made 13 or more threes, but lost a rare one on Friday. They generate them at a very high level when they play one big surrounded by four perimeter players. Jazz coach Quin Snyder continues to show that he can coach an offense, though the question remains whether he’s too concerned with managing players’ feelings with regard to lineup choices. It seems pretty clear that Utah plays better with just one traditional big on the court at a time than they do with Favors and Gobert together, especially with Ricky Rubio in the same starting unit. 

Donovan Mitchell continues to be the Jazz best scorer, with 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and abused fellow rookie Cedi Osman so badly that James decided to take on the defensive assignment himself, a huge sign of respect from the best player in the league. Mitchell also had the highlight of the night for the Jazz with this terrific move and finish:

Overall, this is a game the Jazz would have had a very good chance of winning had Favors been available. Unfortunately, he is now in the concussion protocol and may miss some time. Udoh and Jerebko filled in admirably for the Jazz, but if Favors is out for a while the Jazz could be looking at some tough times with the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the San Antonio Spurs coming up in their next three games.

Play of the night

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t take share this LeBron James highlight.

On to the Rockets on Monday. Go Jazz!

Allen Schowengerdt

After playing basketball all the way through college, Allen understands the Xs and Os of basketball and enjoys breaking down film. He's passionate about sports in general, especially the Jazz.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *