SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz have had bigger wins this season. They’ve had more lopsided ones, too. But maybe none were more fun than Friday night’s 121-99 victory over the hapless Cleveland Cavaliers.
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Start with the consecutive behind-the-back passes by Earl Watson and Andrei Kirilenko that led to Ronnie Price’s easy layup in Utah’s 39-point second quarter.
“It was an awesome play,” said Jazz guard Raja Bell, who watched it unfold from the bench. “I said at the time it’s going to be No. 1 on SportsCenter’s Top 10.”
That is, until reserve C.J. Miles followed 40 seconds later with a thunderous dunk off a backcourt steal by Watson.
“Now it will probably be No. 1 and 2,” Bell said.
That Miles even made the play was a surprise to Price.
“It’s crazy,” Price said. “I’ve been messing with C.J., saying he’s just a shooter these days, that he lost all his athleticism. When he did that, I said, ‘OK, you got it back.'”
Deron Williams led Utah with 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 10 points in the first quarter when the Jazz took a 31-25 lead.
Miles added 20 for the Jazz, who improved to 27-13 with their third straight victory.
The most telling stat might have been Utah’s 32 assists.
“That’s big for us when we get back to running, getting it out and running, and having fun,” Williams said.
It was anything but fun for the Cavaliers (8-31), though they put on a much better performance than their franchise-worst loss Wednesday in Los Angeles to the Lakers.
Even so, the Cavs have lost 12 in a row, 26 of their last 29 and 18 straight on the road.
Antawn Jamison scored 26 for the injury-riddled Cavs, who used only eight players.
“I think as a whole, we’ve got to do a better job of staying focused for the full 48 minutes,” said Cleveland center J.J. Hickson, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds. “We did a good job of that in the second half.”
The second quarter was when this one was decided.
With four reserves and Kirilenko starting the period, Utah went on a 14-0 run to take a 49-31 lead. The Jazz led 70-50 at halftime.
“It’s hard to play better unless you make every single shot,” Miles said. “We did a great job defending, picking up guys full court, getting in guys’ passing lanes, rebounding, and we got a run going.”
The Jazz shot 59.3 percent in the quarter and made four of five from beyond the arc, led by Miles’ 10 points.
The Cavs cut it to 89-83 with 2:13 left in the third on a 3-pointer by Antawn Jamison, who led Cleveland with 26 points (14 in the third quarter). But Miles hit another 3 and Mehmet Okur added a free throw to give Utah a 93-83 lead entering the fourth.
The Jazz scored the first four points of the period to put the game away.
Cavs coach Byron Scott, who called the 55-point loss to the Lakers “embarrassing,” said Friday was a game of two halves.
“It’s weird because the second half, the way we played, is what we talked about all morning,” Scott said. “In the first half, everything that we did was total opposite.”
Utah had six players in double figures. Bell, Al Jefferson and Kirilenko scored 15 each, while Paul Millsap added 11 points
The Jazz now head out on a three-game road trip starting in Washington, then New Jersey.
“We’re in a good spot,” Bell said of Utah’s position tied for first with Oklahoma City atop the Northwest Division. “We had some struggles a couple of weeks ago, but we’ve since rebounded. I think coming back (in overtime) in Houston gave us a nice springboard into these two home games, which were big before the road trip. We’re tied for first. I’ll take that.”
He said the Jazz have to take care of business first at Washington and New Jersey.
“Boston will be a good measuring stick for us even if they aren’t healthy because they play pretty well. It will be a good road trip for us,” Bell said.
NOTES: Utah’s 70 first-half points were a season high. … The Jazz shot 61.7 percent in the first half. … Jamison played his 900th career game. He is one of 23 active players with at least 900 games played, and one of only three all-time with at least 17,000 points, 7,000 rebounds, 900 3-pointers and 900 games. The others are Dirk Nowitzki and Scottie Pippen. … Utah is 18-1 when leading after three quarters.