CLEVELAND — As you might have heard a time or two trillion, LeBron James is no longer a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise.
The Ohio outcast is no longer welcome back in his home state, for that matter.
In other completely related news, the Utah Jazz crushed Cleveland 101-90 on Monday for their first win at Quicken Loans Arena since 2004.
"They're a different team. I wonder why," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan of the James-less Cavs. "In all fairness to them, they had a great player here and he left. This organization had some struggles before that and they'll fight through it again, I'm sure."
The 20-9 Jazz might be stopped at the state line if they have many more outings in Ohio like they did in this well-rounded and resounding victory over the 8-20 hosts.
C.J. Miles, Raja Bell and Paul Millsap each took turns going all LeBron on the Cavs, snapping the nets consistently from all over Tower City. What they did — Miles scoring 22, with Bell and Millsap each adding 19 points — wasn't nearly as psychologically devastating for the locals as James' huge outing here in his triumphant return.
But their nights, combined with strong showings by Deron Williams (17 points and 10 assists) and Al Jefferson (16 points and 13 rebounds), proved to be way too much for the morale-stricken and talent-depleted Cavs to handle.
With 28 assists on 39 field goals, a variety of players stepping up on offense, a 44-34 rebounding edge and a defensive gem, this win was Jazz team basketball at its best.
"That's what good teams do," Williams said. "We've got a lot of weapons. It's a matter of time before they all start clicking at the same time, and it's one of those games where nobody played off the charts. It's just a good, solid win for us."
It was a good sign for the Jazz early on when Bell hit his first jumper from 21 feet out a few minutes in.
The 34-year-old guard, who'd struggled with shooting in his two games back from a groin injury, sparked Utah to a 24-20 lead after one quarter with eight early points and two treys.
Bell ended up scoring a season-high, including a 5-for-6 night from 3-point range.
"He shot the ball well, which opens everything up for us," Williams said. "He played a great game tonight."
Miles took the baton from Bell, hitting 3s, driving hard and rebounding strong en route to 10 second-quarter points as Utah upped its lead to 49-44 heading into the locker room.
But the Jazz really got cooking in Cleveland in the second half, when all five starters and Utah's sixth man contributed as they built a lead that ballooned to as big as 20.
Millsap punctuated an 11-2 run in the third by slamming in an alley-oop pass from Andrei Kirilenko to give Utah its first double-digit lead at 64-53.
Even Daniel Gibson's sizzling game — 29 points, including 7-for-8 from long range — couldn't help the Cavs mount a prolonged comeback, as Utah pulled away with its multi-pronged attack.
Though Utah hit 10-of-23 3-pointers (43.5 percent), Williams thought the Jazz's defense deserved the credit. They limited the Cavs to 41.7 percent shooting overall after a similar stifling showing two days earlier in a 95-86 win at Milwaukee.
"When we're active on defense, we're getting stops, the offense is able to flow a little better," Williams said. "When we're unselfish and we make the extra passes, our offense is a lot better."
This was the first time Utah won consecutive games since it capped a seven-game winning streak with a win over Indiana on Dec. 1. It also improved the Jazz's pre-Christmas road trip record to 2-1 with a second win in three nights following their Big Easy bungle.
Miles said the Jazz left the 29-point blowout loss on the New Orleans Arena court as they walked off it last Friday.30 comments on this story
"We did everything wrong," Miles said of that 100-71 loss. "It was just one of those days and we hadn't had a game like that. ... It happened and I think it was just something that kind of put a little chip on our shoulder for the rest of the trip and woke everybody up."
Utah, now 9-4 away from home, will have a shot to close out the four-game swing on a winning note Wednesday in Minnesota, when Jefferson returns to his old stomping grounds for the first time since being traded this summer.