Jazz-Cavaliers Preview

The Utah Jazz haven’t won back-to-back games in more than two

weeks, but a very favorable schedule the rest of December should

provide a good opportunity to put together a significant winning

streak.

The Jazz look to improve to 11-1 against teams from the Eastern

Conference when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday

night.

Utah (19-9) has split its last eight games following a

season-best seven-game winning streak. It bounced back from a

29-point loss at New Orleans a night earlier with a 95-86 victory

over Milwaukee on Saturday.

“We’re a resilient team,” said Deron Williams, who had 22 points

and 11 assists after being held to season lows of 10 and five by

the Hornets. “We took last night personal. It was an embarrassing

loss and we have to put forth a better effort tonight.”

It was the ninth time this season the Jazz overcame a

double-digit deficit. Utah outscored Milwaukee 52-40 in the second

half, outrebounding the Bucks 46-31 overall.

“When we set out to play defense and we play with that tenacity

on the defensive end, we’re a lot better team than when we don’t,”

Williams said.

It had to help facing a team from the East. The Jazz have won 10

of 11 against teams from the opposite conference, losing only to

Miami on Dec. 8. They are averaging 105.3 points in those 11 games

– nearly nine points higher than they do versus the West.

Williams and the Jazz now begin a favorable stretch against some

of the NBA’s weaker teams. They won’t face a club with a winning

record until hosting Atlanta on Jan. 5, playing seven straight

games against opponents with sub-.500 records.

Cleveland (8-19) snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 109-102

overtime win over New York on Saturday. The Cavaliers took their

first lead in the third quarter and forced overtime on Mo Williams’

basket with 3.7 seconds left.

Williams, who finished with 23 points and a season-high 14

assists, scored six of his team’s 16 points in the extra period.

Anderson Varejao had 14 points, a season-high 17 rebounds – 10

offensive – and four blocked shots.

“We get one more day to kind of enjoy this,” coach Byron Scott

said, “and then obviously we have another tough one Monday. Our

guys earned it, there’s no doubt about it. … Tonight, we kind of

reaped the benefits of our guys playing with that energy and that

effort that we talked about from day one.”

The Knicks were held to 41.1-percent shooting after Cleveland

allowed teams to shoot 50.6 percent during the losing streak.

The Cavaliers also won the battle of the boards for only the

second time in 11 games, outrebounding New York 56-47.

“Andy laid everything out there on the line and in my eyes, he

was the main reason why we were able to find a way to get it done

tonight,” Antawn Jamison said.

The Cavaliers are looking to win two straight for the first time

since a three-game winning streak Nov. 5-9. However, they are 1-6

against teams from the West, allowing 108.9 points in those

games.

Utah has lost six straight in Cleveland since a 97-88 win March

19, 2004.