Jazz: Deron Williams, Ronnie Brewer, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur Cavs: Daniel Gibson, Sasha Pavlovic, LeBron James, Drew Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Mike Callahan, Pat Fraher, Ed Malloy...Pay no attention to the fact that Callahan and Malloy went to the same high school as Tim Donaghy.
--Sasha will start in place of Larry Hughes, out for a month with a bruised leg. Same lineup started in Utah last week. --The Cavs have problems defending the Boozer/Williams pick-and-roll, let's see how they handle it tonight. Williams overall didn't play great last week, except for that one drive. --Brewer, who is my early candidate for most improved player, sneaked up on the Cavs last time, especially with his ball hawking after rebounds and on outlet passes. I suspect they will pay a little more attention. In general, the Jazz like to try to pick the pocket of rebounds --Paul Millsap had a career day last time against the Cavs, mostly because he worked harder. We'll see how they deal with him tonight. --Kirilenko can bother LeBron with his height both on jumpers and get blocks on weak drives. But if LeBron goes right at him, he has no chance whatsoever. We'll see who's will wins, especially early.
Halftime -- Jazz 43, Cavs 39 --Cavs are playing some pretty good defense tonight, especially on the pick-and-roll. They've been burned because they are devoting three players to it, but overall it has been under control. --The Jazz are the best offensive team in the NBA, averaging 109 points a game but are on pace for just 86. Expect them to pick it up some, therefore so must the Cavs on offense. They have done a great job scoring in the paint -- 26 points -- but their jump shooting has been quite poor. --Williams is again not playing well, he's just 2-of-9. Still, lookout. --Daniel Gibson is trying to prove he can get his own shot tonight, trying to dribble drive and run off screens. So far he's 1-of-6. --Ira Newble did a respectable job working on Millsap, who still got five rebounds in 8:32. --LeBron needs to became way more active for the Cavs to have a chance. Sometimes he gets the ball in the post and just waits for the Jazz to bring a double team and then looks to pass. He's not yet in attack mode. --The Jazz started the game 3-of-16 shooting and were only down three points. The Cavs may live to regret that. --Oh, no good Boozer signs that I saw. And Brian you may be right, Cavs bench has two points in the first half.
Postgame -- Cavs 99, Jazz 94
Stars: LeBron James, 40 points LeBron James, 10 rebounds LeBron James, nine assists LeBron James, three blocks Carlos Boozer, 26 points, 11 rebounds Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 17 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks
--Guess LeBron did get active in the second half, if you think 34 points is a good half. --Let's count the big plays LeBron made in the final eight minutes. He makes what could be an all-time highlight in his career by jumping out of bounds and batting the ball to Damon Jones for a 3-pointer. He hits a 26-foot 3-pointer on the Cavs' fourth shot in one posession. He gets a 3-point play on a dunk in transition. He hits Ilgauskas for a jumper to give the Cavs the lead with 40 seconds left. He hits two free throws with 18 seconds left. He gets the block on Carlos Boozer (that's what the stat guys called it, not a steal). He hits two free throws with 3.8 seconds left. He gets the game-winning rebound. He hits two more free throws just for the hell of it. --As an aside, the Cavs are 38-of-43 at the line the last two games. --This was the best defense the Cavs have played to date. They did an excellent job helping and dealing with the pick-and-roll. When they threw zone at Utah in the third quarter they didn't know what to do and started missing long jumpers and turning it over, which let the Cavs pile up a bunch of fastbreak points. --Ilgauskas is playing like an All-Star. And since some people seem to think this is so important, he had three assists tonight. --It seemed like Deron Williams was too obsessed with trying to take Gibson 1-on-1 and took a lot of off balance or bad shots. He went 4-of-17. Boobie seemed like he was trying to create his own shot too much and went 1-of-9. Both players were out of their comfort zone. --Boozer was excellent in the fourth quarter but he didn't get many easy looks tonight like he did last week in Utah. By the way, Boozer badly wanted a foul on LeBron when he stripped him late even though it looked clean on the replays. Here is another reminder that calls usually even out. --Ira Newble has earned the right to play and he battled in there. With LeBron, Damon Jones, Dwayne Jones and Devin Brown he was part of an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter. He deserves minutes every night right now. However, he's going to get bulled by the bigger guys he is defending and giving my so many minutes late in the game might not be a great idea. --The Cavs are 5-5 yet have not led a single game going into the fourth quarter yet. They have some issues to be sure, but looking at these 10 games before this all started I did not rule out 3-7.
Quotes Mike Brown: "Hopefully sooner or later, people will start talking about LeBron as a great defender." LeBron: "Once I get going it is hard to stop me. I think my teammates fed off me being aggressive." Jerry Sloan: "It looked like we were afraid to get over in front of (James). He had a huge second half and that was the ball game." Boozer: "They have great fans and they're very animated trying to distract me a little bit. But it's all part of sports, it's all fun and games."