Bad second quarter dooms Cavs against Jazz
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Utah Jazz finally found a way to win on the road.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would like to find a way to win, period.
Al Jefferson scored 25 points, Gordon Hayward added 23, and the Jazz snapped a six-game road losing streak with a 109-100 win on Monday night.
Cleveland has lost six straight and four in a row at home.
It’s no surprise the two coaches had different points following the outcome.
“We needed a big road win, so we’re going to hold onto this for the next day and a half,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said.
A few feet down the hall, Cleveland coach Byron Scott had the opposite opinion.
“We are hoping sooner or later someone in the locker room gets ticked off besides me,” he said. “That’s what it boils down to.”
Rookie Kyrie Irving, who led Cleveland with 22 points, agrees with his coach.
“I think we’re all ticked off, not just him,” he said. “It has to show on the court. We came out lackadaisical. I’m not surprised we lost the game.”
Irving scored 21 points in the second half, including 13 in the third quarter, after missing all six of his shots in the first half.
Utah won for the fourth time away from home in 17 games. Jefferson was 9 for 16 from the field, had 13 rebounds and a career-high seven assists.
“This was a game we knew we had to win in order to stay in the playoff hunt,” he said. “We need to keep playing like we played tonight. We played great defense and moved the ball.”
Jefferson’s assist total impressed his teammates more than his points and rebounds.
“I’m trying to get Al Jefferson in the skills challenge,” joked guard Earl Watson. “Did you see him out there? That’s why he’s my client. I’m going viral with the campaign starting tomorrow.”
Corbin’s change in the starting lineup paid big dividends as well. Hayward started Utah’s first 36 games, but was benched in favor of Raja Bell, who returned after missing six games with strained left adductor. Hayward responded by going 8 for 11 from the field in 28 minutes.
“I didn’t take it as anything but he’s trying to get the team wins,” Hayward said. “I had the same mentality as before. It is a different feeling because it’s a different part of the game, but I did it last year a little bit, so I’m trying to get back into it.”
“I thought his energy was real good,” Corbin said. “You never now how a guy could take (benching), but he took it in a positive manner and really went with it.”
Utah point guard Devin Harris sprained his right knee in the third quarter and didn’t return, but he expects to play Wednesday in Charlotte.
Utah led by 17 points late in the second quarter and was still ahead 85-70 in the final seconds of the third period. The Jazz were ahead by double figures for most of the fourth quarter until Cleveland closed the lead to 105-100 on Alonzo Gee’s with 48 seconds remaining.
Utah didn’t covert on its next possession, but Ryan Hollins missed two free throws with 12.5 seconds remaining. The Jazz put the game away at the foul line.
Utah finished the first half with a 22-8 run to take a 56-41 lead into the locker room. Leading 34-33, the Jazz scored 10 straight points and took control in the final 8:46 of the period. Josh Howard scored six points, while Hayward and Watson hit 3-pointers.
Cleveland was 3 for 16 from the field in the quarter. The final basket came on Gee’s 3-pointer with 4:36 remaining.
Slow starts have been a problem during Cleveland’s losing streak and Scott doesn’t have an answer.
“You have to ask the guys in the locker room,” he said. “I don’t know.”
Scott obviously wants to see a better effort throughout the game.
“I thought in the last five or six minutes we played with what I call a sense of urgency, but that’s not good enough,” he said.
Irving didn’t score until he hit a free throw on a technical foul with 1:31 remaining in the second quarter. He missed all six of his field goal attempts. Irving’s first basket came on a jumper at the 11:01 mark of the third quarter. He was back in the starting lineup for Saturday’s 101-98 loss in Washington and finished with 20 points and six assists a day after resting with an illness.
“I feel great,” Irving said. “I’m pretty good health-wise. It was tough being out and trying to get better, but I feel fine.”
NOTES: The Jazz hadn’t won on the road since a 98-88 victory over Memphis on Feb. 12. Utah hasn’t dropped seven consecutive road contests since Dec. 4-19, 2007. …Bell scored two points in 21 minutes in his first game since Feb. 19.Cleveland visits Denver on Wednesday and Oklahoma City on Friday. Six of the next nine games are on the road. … Hollins and Gee made their second straight starts after Scott shook up his lineup Saturday. C Semih Erden didn’t play for the second straight game.