Just Jazz Recap: Defensive game of the year results in Utah blowout of Cavs

Just Jazz Recap: Defensive game of the year results in Utah blowout of Cavs

by Daniel Olsen

The Jazz entered this game 76 days after a 30-point win in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Not only did they surpass that performance, but they absolutely stifled the Cavaliers in a 114-75 beating in Salt Lake City.

First Quarter: Jazz set tone early

The Jazz started out landing a blow each time the Cavaliers tried to challenge them. As always, it was satisfying to see a flurry of Jazz points result in the opposing team calling a timeout. Cavs guard Darius Garland hit an impressive jumper that was promptly followed by a Donovan Mitchell three-pointer. With the score at 9-3 at that point, JB Bickerstaff had to know his team was in trouble.

Other things that the Jazz did well from the tip were their selfless ball movement, great shooting from downtown and stellar defense by Rudy Gobert.

On one possession, Ingles gave up a wide open three to hit Georges Niang for an even better look from the corner. Watching the Jazz organize their offensive flow is like listening to one of Mozart’s symphonies. It was simply beautiful and led to 19 made shots from three on the night.

One thing Gobert did exceptionally well on the night was defend the perimeter. Teams that have scouted Rudy in the past believe that it’s not as hard to score on him once he’s taken away from the rim. That proved to be old news as Gobert blocked several Cavs players whether they dared to go outside or pulled up from three. He finished with four blocks on the night and two were outside the paint.

Donovan Mitchell had the play that was determined by the Jazz broadcast to be the Morgan Jewelers Diamond play of the game. He took a pass from Bogdanovic at the top of the key and split two defenders for the two-hand hammer dunk.

Second quarter: Jazz strangle Cavs even more

Part of what makes the Jazz a great team at their best is that they play a solid 48 minutes of basketball. They don’t just rely on one good quarter on offense or defense. In this game, the Jazz acted like a boa constrictor slowly suffocating its prey. After scoring 27 in the first to Cleveland’s 18, the Jazz kept the offense going with 26 in the second quarter compared to just 16 from the Cavs.

It wasn’t just defense that Gobert excelled at. He had arguably the play of the half when went up to set a pick and then rolled to the basket to catch the ball with two hands and go up for a dunk. The defenders surrounding Gobert looked minuscule compared to him and were just helpless as the giant center entered the paint.

Gobert finished the night with a double-double that included 18 points, 17 rebounds, 4 blocks and a plus/minus of +38. The only player around the NBA who had a better stat line on the night was Russell Westbrook who had a historic triple-double that almost looked like video game numbers. With Bradley Beal sidelined, Westbrook had 35 points, 14 rebounds and 21 assists for the Wizards. Another former MVP with a triple double on the night was James Harden.

Third quarter: Jazz rub salt in the wound

Cleveland tried but the woes continued for the rebuilding franchise. They only had two players in double figures on the night with 20 from Collin Sexton and 18 from Garland. Sexton missed all five of his three-point attempts.

The key to this quarter was the Jazz exploding for a game high 37 points in this quarter while keeping the same defensive intensity. The Cavs average the fewest threes per game in the NBA and, with that shot now being a necessity in the league, it makes sense why their record is among the bottom in the league.

Mike Conley was the hero of this quarter as he did most of his damage from three. Each of his three made shots from downtown in the game were made in this quarter. It didn’t matter whether it came off a screen or in isolation. The lefty had the moves to get open and knock down his shots.

Fourth Quarter: Bring out your bench

Early in this quarter, the Jazz showed a little mercy and brought out their bench guys for some valuable garbage time experience. It was the only quarter in which the Cavs kept up with the Jazz as they were only outscored 24 to 23 in this final frame.

Nobody on the bench really got going as the highest scorers, Clarkson and Niang, stayed just shy of double digits with nine points each. The bench player of the game will go to a newly acquired player before the deadline: Matt Thomas. The sharpshooter was acquired from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for a second round pick. Thomas had five points on the night which came from a wide open three-point splash and a 17-foot jumper from the left side of the free throw line. With this successful night, Thomas now has his first points in a Jazz uniform. The dark Mode city jerseys looked fresh on him as well as all the other players.

On the Road Again

The Jazz will look to keep the wins coming as they head on the road following their 20th consecutive home win which is tied for the best in franchise history. They have won six straight and haven’t dropped a game since they lost a close one to the Wizards in Washington D.C.

The Jazz will start in Memphis on Wednesday to face a Grizzlies team they beat in back-to-back nights in Salt Lake City over the weekend. The game will start at 6 PM Mountain Time. Following this game, the Jazz will return home to play Chicago and Orlando. They will then head back on the road to Dallas before ending their road trip in Phoenix to play the up-and-coming Suns. The Jazz hold a 3.5 game lead over the Suns in the Western Conference standings as they still boast a league best record at 35-11.

Game Notes:

• Gobert’s 17 rebounds were the most since his 28 rebound outing in a loss to the Golden State Warriors.

• Mitchell has been lights out from three as he had a game high four splashes from deep. Mitchell has had five consecutive games of at least four three-point makes.

• Mike Conley had a game high five assists. The 29-17 assist advantage combined with just 12 turnovers is a big reason why the Jazz dominated this game.

• Clarkson continues his three-point streak with 72 consecutive games with at least one made shot from downtown. He needs three more to catch one of the regulars in three-point records in Stephen Curry. Curry also holds the all-time record with a 157-game streak that spanned his two MVP seasons.

• Gobert also led the night in steals. That means he led in every defensive category with 17 rebounds (13 defensive), 4 blocks and 2 steals. Give him the DPOY Award already.

• Trent Forrest was the only player on the Jazz roster who did not score a single point. He put up just one attempt at the rim that did not fall. He still found a way to contribute with three assists in his 12 minutes of play.

• The Jazz have out-scored opponents by a net total of 88 points in this four game home stand.

Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

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