The Jazz could not afford to lose to another bad team and they got their chance to take everything the Cleveland Cavaliers gave them at Rocket Mortgage Arena.
Early on the Jazz got wide open shots but weren’t hitting them. Once they started hitting them the Cavs matched their offense for a while. After a few lead changes the Jazz increased their lead each quarter. They went from up 6 after 1 to up 8 at halftime. They would stretch that lead to 12 after the third quarter and 13 to end the game.
Before this game we highlighted 3 keys to the road trip. All three of them were implemented in some degree to unlock the potential we know this team is capable of having when they play their brand of basketball.
1. Move the Ball: The Jazz definitely did what they were supposed to do as far as this key is concerned. Their first game in March ended with 30 assists. This is Jazz basketball. It doesn’t matter how well some of their guys can play isolation basketball. That isn’t Jazz basketball. This is the most assists the Jazz have had in a game since January 12th when they their 32 assists resulted in a win over the Washington Wizards in D.C.
2. Defend as a team: There didn’t appear to be a lot of hustle early on so the bad defense is still a trend in the first half that the Jazz need to stop. It actually didn’t get better later in the game as Cleveland scored more as the game progressed. The Jazz just happened to be on fire offensively so it didn’t matter how much the Cavs scored.
The Jazz will have to clean this up or they will lose to the next good team they play which will be the Celtics on Friday. The Suns beat the Jazz last week so teams like the Cavs and Knicks can beat the Jazz if they are having an off shooting night. This team has a two-time Defensive Player of the Year on their team but if they don’t learn to play defense as a team they will continue to have disappointing losses as a team.
3. Be in attack mode all night: As mentioned before the Jazz were in attack mode all night but only on the offensive end. All starting five players scored in double figures as well as Jordan Clarkson off the bench. The Big 3 of Rudy, Donovan and Bojan combined for 67 points. Bojan led the Jazz with 28 points. Colin Sexton on the Cavs did have a game high 32 points but the Jazz were more balanced in their offensive attack. Rudy again was just 1 rebound shy of a double double. It seemed like at one point the rim was so wide that the Jazz were shooting into the Great Salt Lake.
The Jazz can thank at least the first key of playing unselfishly on the offensive end for this win. They will need all three keys to unlock a win against Boston and might need at least two to beat Detroit and New York on this road trip. The Jazz appear to be mentally back from the All-Star vacation so we will see whether it results in more wins this week.