Game 36: Cavs at Jazz
He had just 10 points in 21 minutes. The Cavs wanted to restrict his minutes to keep an eye on his achy Achilles' tendon. Deng has brought a new attitude to the team. It's uplifting. I can't wait to see them play at Sacramento on Sunday.
Finally, they've upgraded the small forward position. They tried to upgrade over the summer with the signing of Earl Clark, who turned out to be a taller version of Alonzo Gee. That's not completely fair, as Clark does have the ability to shoot the deep ball from behind the arc.
Clark will move to the bench as Deng's backup, where he belongs. Gee will probably not play at all.
Coach Mike Brown said he was amped to finally see Deng play in a Cavs uniform. I agree completely. This guy can not only shoot, he can post-up, rebound and he defends his rear end off. I've always loved his game from afar.
The Bulls had been saying all along that they were going to try to re-sign him in the offseason. I guess that could still happen unless the Cavs are able to sign him to an extension in-season. They really have to try to get that done. Once he reaches free agency, he probably will get better offers.
The Bulls offered him an extension - one that he wasn't going to accept - and once he said no, they traded him.
Deng's first game with the Cavs will draw the headlines. The game was won in the third quarter when the Cavs laid a season-high 39 points on the Jazz. Guard Kyrie Irving caught fire in the third quarter. He had five points in the first half. He finished with 25 points, six rebounds, eight assists and a season-high five steals.
In all, the Cavs had seven players in double figures. The Cavs got 72 points from guards Irving, C.J. Miles (17), Dion Waiters (17) and Jarrett Jack (12).
The Jazz have the worst record in the Western Conference. However, they aren't bad at home at 7-11. Remember, the Cavs have been putrid on the road up until now. They are now 3-15. They snapped a five-game losing streak on the road.
But they have a renewed optimism. It's time to make their move - if they are going to make it. They are a much better team than they've shown up until now.
Play like it.
They snapped a four-game losing streak in Utah. Their last win before Friday in Salt Lake City came on Jan. 24, 2009.
Miles is returning to his old stomping ground in Utah on an absolute tear. He's averaging 21 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals in his last five games. If he continues to shoot like he has, the Cavs will be a legitimate team.
It appears as if struggling rookie Anthony Bennett has dropped out of Coach Mike Brown's rotation. That might be a good thing right now.
UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Sacramento at 6 p.m. Sunday at Sleep Train Arena.
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Derrick Favors (6-10, 268)
Jazz - C Rudy Gobert, G Ian Clark