1. HIGHLIGHTS HIGHLIGHTS HIGHLIGHTS
A game this exciting is probably best described with some highlights. In chronological order:
Hayward chasedown block on LeBron1to dunk on the other end:
Hayward’s defense on LeBron with Cavs down 2:
Hayward’s game winner from 2 angles:
That was the best game in Utah since the Sundiata Gaines game, which, honestly, is one of the best games in regular season NBA history. Press row was standing just to see over the standing/jumping fans. The Utah fans, to their credit, were loud all night:
Rodney Hood’s assessment of the game was spot on: “This is probably one of my first game-winning shots I have been a part of. Just running on the floor, rushing the court, it was fun!”
Gordon Hayward played incredibly well, beyond just the shot to win the game. He scored 21 points on 12 shots, and accumulated 7 assists and 4 rebounds beyond that. He ran more than any other player on the Jazz (2.41 miles), and also led the team in passes. His excellent defense on LeBron (as shown above) in the game’s last minute changed the game, and allowed Utah to eventually hold on for the win.
Derrick Favors also seems to have taken a leap: only 5 days after his career-high 32 point performance against the Suns, Favors put up 21 points (on 13 shots) and 10 rebounds against the Cavs, including good defense on Love (held to just 2 for 10 shooting) and Varejao (4-10).
I thought the Jazz rebounded collectively incredibly well. The Jazz picked up 13 of the 21 offensive rebounds that they had a chance of (within 3.5 feet of). On the defensive end, they ended up with 28 of the 38 chances. Those are really good numbers against what projects to be one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA this season, given the front line of James, Love, and Varejao.
2. The Cavs looked pretty sketchy.
What are the Cavs doing? David Blatt has enough experience as a coach internationally that he deserves a long chance to implement what he’s going for as a team. But right now, the Cavs aren’t getting it done on either end of the floor. Offensively, the Cavs:
Had the Cavs not gotten to the line 40(!) times against the Jazz 2, their offense would have been completely embarrassing.
But quite frankly, I thought their defense was poor too. The Cavs gave up 102 points in 89 possessions to the Jazz, a 114 DRtg against a team that had the 24th best offense last season. They looked lackadaisical, and LeBron and others looked completely disinterested at times:
The Jazz also had 33 restricted area attempts, of which the Cavs only blocked 4. Obviously, it’s on the 2nd night of a back to back, but I thought the Cavs looked like they have a long way to go based on their play tonight.
3. Trevor Booker continues to win Jazz fans over in a big way.
There were a lot of people who questioned Booker’s signing this offseason, including both the amount of money that Booker earned and how he was the Jazz’s biggest acquisition of the free agency period. He’s continuing to win over Jazz fans with his tough play.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder talked about Booker at the end of the game: “Flagrant fouls are never good things. Trevor gave us… well, it’s more like ‘what didn’t he give us?’. His 3 point shot with 2 seconds on the shot clock on the out-of-bounds… there were a lot of momentum plays like that. We want him to keep playing hard, but also play smart and clean.”
One of those momentum plays he talked about was this strong dunk in the 4th, taking back the momentum after a big Cavs run:
During last season, the Jazz front office felt they needed to add a little bit of toughness to the team, and seem to have found that injection with Trevor Booker, who plays with seemingly the world’s biggest chip on his shoulder. It’s a change of pace for the Jazz, and one they’ve seemed to welcome.