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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cavs at Jazz

UTAH JAZZ (22-19) 109, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (10-32) 98
Energy Solutions Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: The Cavs' last major road trip has ended just like it began - with a loss. They finished 1-4 on their journey out west.

The Cavs hung around with the Jazz on Saturday until the third quarter. Utah outscored the Cavs in the third, 31-20. How many times have I written the same thing this season? Ten times? Maybe more.

Whatever the Cavs do at halftime should be abolished. I'm not privy to what happens in the locker room at halftime. The coaches have to find a way to get through to the players during the intermission and ensure that they come out with some fire in the third.

They came out and sleepwalked in the early going of the second half and were forced to play catch-up the rest of the game.

The Jazz have won their last six games against the Cavs.

Coming into tonight's game, the focal point of the Cavs' game plan had to be finding a way to slow down Utah's deep and talented frontcourt. It was a no-brainer.

Jazz big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap normally have their way with the Cavs. But the Cavs held them in check. They found out that when Utah goes to the bench, it doesn't lose much with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.

Millsap and Jefferson combined for 22 points and 16 rebounds. Cavs center Tyler Zeller and power forward Tristan Thompson combined for 25 points and 25 rebounds.

The problem was Favors fired in a season-high 19 points and eight rebounds, while Kanter added 14 points and five rebounds. The Cavs don't have a legitimate big on their bench. Luke Walton plays the "4" spot, but is more perimeter-oriented.

Another surprise, at least for me, was the play of Jazz shooting guard Randy Foye. He fired in a team-high 20 points, and was 4 of 8 from behind the arc.

Veteran point guard Earl Watson didn't score a point in the game, yet he impacted the outcome with nine of the Jazz's 30 assists.

For the Cavs, sixth man Dion Waiters was quite good on the offensive end with a game-high 23 points and three assists. He attacked the basket with a vengeance and was 10 of 12 from the foul line, both career highs. I loved the way he penetrated into the key and made things happen.

Point guard Kyrie Irving had a very quiet 18 points and nine assists. One would have thought that he would have lit up Jazz point guard Jamaal Tinsley. That wasn't the case. Tinsley, starting for the injured Mo Williams, had 11 points, four assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes.

Williams, who played for the Cavs for 2 1/2 seasons before being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in February 2011, has been out since Dec. 23 with right thumb surgery.

I was definitely concerned with the Jefferson-Zeller matchup before the game. Zeller finished with 13 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and three blocks. He has 12 blocked shots in his last five games.

He competed. That's all anyone can ask from the 7-foot rookie.

Thompson ended with 12 points and 13 rebounds for his 11th double-double in his last 16 games. He has 16 on the season. Soon, he'll be averaging a double-double, something that was predicted by Coach Byron Scott in the preseason.

The 6-9, 227-pounder is averaging 13.6 points and 12 rebounds in his last 16 games. He's shooting 50.4 percent from the field during that stretch.

LAST GAME: The Cavs defeated Portland on Wednesday, 93-88.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Boston at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Marvin Williams (6-9, 237)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Paul Millsap (6-8, 258)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Al Jefferson (6-10, 289)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 222) vs. Randy Foye (6-4, 220)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Jamaal Tinsley (6-3, 188) 
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao
Jazz - G Mo Williams, G Raja Bell
Derrick Stafford, Tre Maddox, Zach Zarba


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