It was ugly, nasty and every other unflattering adjective you could use to describe a game Thursday night in Salt Lake City.
And the Cavaliers had no business winning it, and they didn’t. Giving up 42 points in the fourth quarter on 70 percent shooting is not the way you want to try to finish a game, especially after coming all the way back from a 13-point deficit with just 4:50 left in the game.
The Cavs eventually fell to the Utah Jazz 97-96 after 10-day signee Sundiata Gaines hit a 3-point shot over Cavs guard Anthony Parker with time ticking away in regulation.
``To give up 42 points in the fourth quarter is not us,'' coach Mike Brown said. `` We cannot be that team. We cannot be that team and we did it tonight.’’
LeBron James led all scorers with 36 points and added nine rebounds and six assists. The Cavs next highest scorer was Delonte West and Anthony Parker, both with 11.
Carlos Boozer led the Jazz with 19 points and 13 rebounds, followed by 13 each from center Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Price.
But it didn’t have to end that way for the Cavs as again, they were their own worst enemies in a loss. To call this game ugly represents a generous assessment of how they played.
The Jazz took advantage of offensive rebounds and turnovers to the tune of 45 points, more than half of those points coming on turnovers.
‘’A lot of the turnovers we had were unforced. I can’t believe how many times we tried to get the ball into the post and it was tipped or stolen,’’Brown said. ‘’We were real lackadaisical trying to do that.’’
They still had a chance to win, however, as they came up with timely turnovers of their own and James willed them back into the game.
The Cavs had four steals in the fourth quarter, and James scored 20 points in the quarter, including back-to-back 3-point shots within seconds of one another with about a minute left in the game to put his team ahead by four points. They eventually extended the lead to six points with 40.2 seconds left in the game.
But free throws down the stretch played a role in the loss, as the Jazz extended the game in its final minutes to give themselves a shot at the victory.
During that span, the Cavs looked as if they would be the first Eastern Conference team to march off Utah’s homecourt with a victory.
A 3-point shot by the Jazz’s Price cut the lead to three at 91-88 with 29 seconds left. Then the intentional foul game began and the Cavs missed three free throws down the stretch.
James refused to put the blame on those shots, however, pointing to the team’s inability to play a complete game for the reason the team lost to the Jazz.
‘’We have to step up and make free throws, but at the same time, that’s not why we lost the game,’’ he said. ‘’That last shot isn’t why we lost the game. We have to play as close to 48 minutes as possible.’’
It was the fourth time James scored 35 or more points on this road trip. He took little solace in that fact, however, as the team will prepare to face the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday night.
‘’Everything I did tonight as an individual goes out the window,’’ he said.
About that shot James offered praise for Gaines, a player that Jazz signed from the Idaho Stampede to a 10-day contract on Jan 15.
‘’You feel good for a guy like that (coming) from the D-League,’’ he said. ‘’We have a guy, Jawad Wiliams, that do the same thing for us. We hated to have it happen against us, but you feel good for guys llike that.’’
Buzzer beaters: James got poked in what looked to be his left eye and suffered what looked briefly to be a serious ankle injury in the fourth quarter. He said that the eye wasn’t doing that well after the game.