The Cavaliers won this game for two reasons – Delonte West stepped up big in the third quarter, dropping three, 3-point shots. LeBron James assumed his normal role in the fourth quarter and dominated that period and lastly, defense. While James was busy muzzling the Jazz with 13-of-21 shooting for 38 points, the team went into shutdown mode, forcing Jazz players to alter shots and contesting each one. The Jazz would only shoot 35 percent in the fourth quarter. The fnished with a total of 10 steals and 6 blocked shots, including a monster one from James on Carlos Boozer that had to make every fan in Quicken Loans Arena scream with glee.
Just as important: the Cavs had been losing the rebound battle in some recent games. While they didn’t dominate this one, they still came out ahead 40-37. Ben Wallace, Z and Anderson Varejao kept Carlos Boozer in check, holding him to 17 points.
From the coach’s office:
Mike Brown on Delonte West’s defense against the Jazz’s Kyle Korver:
More important than that, another guy that could have gotten going for them was Kyle Korver. We told Delonte he needed to stay attached to Kyle and don’t have any air space. Delonte did a nice job.
LeBron James on closing out games:
Tonight was another close game. I think Boobie’s shot (a 3-pointer) at the end of the third quarter gave us a lot of momentum and then we were able to put a lot of pressure on them because of our defense. That’s when we lock down defensively and we got stops.
At the half:
An improbable 7-0 run for the Jazz ended the first quarter to pull the Jazz back into a game the Cavaliers threatened to blow out early. Two lazy passes that led to two steals and four points and a 3-pointer at the buzzer. That run would boil over to a 14-0 and the Cavs lost their bearings as they let a guy by the name of of Paul Millsap get into a groove and sink them. The Cavaliers walked into the locker room down by seven, 53-46, when in all likelihood they should have been winning. But that opinion and $4 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. I’ll give you guys $2 and you can go to MickeyD’s instead.
Game: Cavs vs. Jazz
Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Jazz: C.J. Miles (F); Carlos Boozer (F); Kosta Koufos (C); Ronnie Brewer (G); Ronnie Price (G).
Injuries: Jazz: Matt Harpring is a game-time decision; Andrei Kirilenko is day-to-day with a sprained right index finger; Mehmet Okur is out for personal reasons and Deron Williams is doubtful with a sprained ankle.
Officials: Dick Bavetta, Marc Davis, Zach Zarba
Streaking: The Cavaliers put a six-game winning streak on the line this evening against an undermanned Jazz. Utah has lost two in a row.
Three things to watch:
1) Watch the battle in the paint. Rookie center and Northeast Ohio native Kosta Koufos has been pressed into a starting role because of injuries. He was somewhat of an unfinished product while at Ohio State, more Dirk Nowitzki than dominating post presence. Although he made strides in that area toward the end of the collegiate season. In Friday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats he blocked nine shots.
2) If you’re the Utah Jazz, you’ve got to be bothered by the fact that you lost to the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night. They could be fiery to start. It also doesn’t help that while on the road the past four games they own a 1-3 record.
3) LeBron James and Carlos Boozer will likely get some face time together when James plays power forward some, so it will be interesting to see how they play off one another. Also, Jazz point guard Deron Williams likely won’t be playing tonight because of a left ankle sprain. He saw time against the Bobcats, but the Jazz are likely to play him a second night in a row.
In the coach’s office:
Coach Mike Brown on playing an undermanned Jazz team:
We should play the right way and sometimes if you play the right way, it doesn’t work out…As long as our focus is here tonight, which I guess you could say is kind of sort of a test, I’ll be happy. It doesn’t matter who’s in uniform we need to understand that we’ve got to come out and we need to play the right way.
Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan on Canton native center Kosta Koufos:
I’ll break them in if they’re willing to work. You can’t break them in if they’re not willing to work. He came in worked hard. Made some mistakes and didn’t feel sorry for himself and didn’t pout around. He just stepped out there and acted the way a pro should act and consequently, he’s gotten a chance to play.
From the locker room:
Kosta Koufos on playing in the NBA:
I’m living my dream. It’s good to play in front of the home crowd. The game’s the game. You’ve got to come in and play hard and hopefully come out with a victory.