Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Utah "Too Jazzy" For Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers fell to defeat last night against the Utah Jazz. The Cavs tried to keep it close, but the quality of Utah's squad ultimately prevailed, as the Jazz left Cleveland 101-90 winners. If you're an Inbetweeners fan, you'll get the joke in the title.

After beating the Knicks a couple of nights ago, confidence and momentum was high heading into last night's contest against the Jazz. And the Cavs certainly started brightly too, with Antawn Jamison catching fire early in the first quarter, nailing some big shots. Daniel Gibson, gifted a start by Byron Scott, also began the game brightly. Initially I was impressed by the hustle of the Cavs on defense, as the Jazz struggled to get into their rhythm and were turning the ball over. However, once the Jazz settled down, it spelt the end for the Cavaliers.

Utah's ability to get offensive rebounds was what eventually cost Cleveland the game. The Jazz were pulling down offensive rebounds whenever they wanted, as the Cavs just couldn't regain the ball. The opportunity for second chance points helped the Jazz enormously, but Cleveland still kept it close. The introduction of J.J Hickson brought an improvement in rebounding, and he eventually finished the night with a team-high 9 rebounds. Late in the second quarter, Mo Williams found his groove. His jumpshot was falling nicely, and a nice stop-and-pop 3 pointer took the Cavs back into the game. Mo was also passing the ball extremely well, racking up a lot of assists in the first half, as he moved the ball brilliantly. Cleveland's 3 point shooting was outstanding in the second quarter, with Mo, Gibson and Anthony Parker all hitting massive shots from beyond the arc. But the Cavs just couldn't get out to a big enough lead, as the Jazz were also having a terrific night shooting the ball. At half time I began to realise what a good team Utah are, in respect to the pieces they've got on their team. Jefferson, Deron Williams, Miles, Millsap, Bell, the list goes on. A defense's nightmare...

At the start of the third quarter, the Jazz were still making their shots in spite of the Cavs' best efforts. It felt like Raja Bell didn't miss all night, as he consistently converted on open shots. The rebounding difficulties for the Cavs weren't disappearing either, as Utah kept regaining possession and making it count with second chance points. It was frustrating to watch, as the Cavs were trying their best to box out, but the ball just didn't fall the home side's way. The Jazz were trying to put the game beyond doubt in the third quarter, but Gibson was keeping Cleveland in it, hitting back-to-back 3 pointers and carrying the team on his back. Boobie was thriving in his role last night, and he was growing in confidence with the increased minutes he received. Gibson is playing so well this season, with consistency that I've never seen from him before in his career. Despite Boobie's best efforts, the Jazz began to pull away late in the third. Deron Williams took control of the game, and was deceptively amazing without me really noticing. I suppose that's what makes D-Will one of the top point guards in the game, that he is a true team player. Williams was racking up the assists and moving the ball so well, giving the Cavs' defense some major problems. By the end of the third, the Jazz had opened up a decent lead, as the Cavs' offense was stuttering - I think they fell in love with the 3 point shot a bit too much, and overall just made some bad shot selections.

Cleveland needed to start the fourth quarter brightly to claw themselves back into the contest, but Byron Scott's men came out sloppy and the Jazz quickly scored 4 points to increase the gap to 16 points. From then on, the result was beyond doubt and the game started to look like a blowout. Gibson, C.J Miles and Raja Bell were intent on having their own 3 point contest in the fourth quarter, as I don't remember seeing either man miss a shot from behind the arc. However, in spite of Gibson's best efforts, the Jazz were cruising and ultimately ran out 101-90 winners. Boobie had a career night with 29 points, and he only missed one 3 point attempt all night, a fantastic performance.

Cleveland's next game isn't any easier, as they travel to Atlanta on Wednesday to take on the Hawks. I will be watching, as I recently purchased a month's subscription to NBA League Pass (an early Christmas present to myself). So expects more Cavs-related posts over the next 4 weeks! Hurray!

Thanks for reading.

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