SALT LAKE CITY – A coronation it was not. The Utah Jazz beat the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers 100-92 in front of a raucous sold-old Vivint Smart Home Arena. Here’s what stood out in the Jazz’s battle against the league’s best.
In every discussion involving the Eastern Conference’s elite, one brings up the Western Conference’s Superteam in the Silicon Valley. And the Cavaliers are designed to beat the Warriors. It’s all about who can stay on the floor when Golden State opts for the Death Lineup. Well on Tuesday night, the Jazz play a decidedly different brand of basketball.
Defensive in identity, Utah utilized its size to corral Cleveland pick-and-roll offense. And finally it was with it’s preferred starting five playing in just their sixth game together.
GHill/Gobert has to be the toughest defensive pick and roll combination to score on in the league. Look at how they swallow this one up pic.twitter.com/72WLrB5pAI
— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) January 11, 2017
George Hill’s lateral quickness and Rudy Gobert’s frightening size made it a no fly zone in the paint. The Cavs scored 32 inside compared to the Jazz’s 40. Gobert and Derrick Favors combined for 23 points and 19 rebounds.
Coming into the matchup, LeBron James and Company had won 15 of their last 18. The Best Player on the Planet willed his squad past the Phoenix Suns.
But after a second quarter performance that yielded just 12 points and sent the Cavs into the half down 56-41, he tried to summon it again. However Tuesday, the King’s game-high 29 weren’t enough to earn a victory at the Viv, and he settled for a friendly back-and-forth with the court side fans before exiting with 27 seconds left.
Instead, he was out-dueled by a tour-de-force performance by Gordon Hayward. The All Star candidate turned in a performance befitting of the honor, dropping 28 on 10-of-12 from the field.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) January 11, 2017
Going back to Cleveland’s arms race with the Warriors, Kyle Korver was supposed to provide pizazz from the outside. He did not. The ex-Jazzman went 0-for-2 from deep while the team went 9-for-31. It’s a work in progress.
The ball was stuck in iso situations that couldn’t sustain long term viability.
The Cavs didn’t have an assist in the second quarter. Reminds me of when Kyrie didn’t have an assist here all game two seasons ago
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) January 11, 2017
They finished with 15 assists and gave up 16 turnovers. Utah’s perimeter defense, highlighted by Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood, eliminated the outside threat.
“If our wings can guard like that, that makes us good defensively because we have Rudy back there. If we can get George on the ball, our wings make a big difference.” -Head Coach Quin Snyder
Playing the way they did Tuesday night, the Jazz are a tough team to beat.
Jazz HC Quin Snyder
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