Ravell Call, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz didn't need a magical make by Sundiata Gaines this time at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Not by a long shot.
Last-second heroics weren't even close to being needed against this Cleveland team, which has been decimated in the past six months by the departure of the Karma King and, more recently, a slew of injuries.
But in easily crushing the outmanned Cavaliers 121-99 Friday at EnergySolutions Arena, the Jazz offered up some pretty sweet nominations for sports show highlight reels and online replay clips.
Of course, editors had their work cut out to dig through all of the offensive moments.
The Jazz scored a season-best 70 points in the first half and followed up their 131-point outing Wednesday against the Knicks with another offensive masterpiece that included 52.8 percent shooting, 10-for-19 3-point accuracy, 32 assists, 26 points and nine assists from Deron Williams, an explosive 20 points from C.J. Miles, and oodles of ooohs and aaahs for the sellout crowd of 19,911.
"I think that is the way we need to play some nights," said Jazz starting shooting guard Raja Bell, who scored 15 points along with Andrei Kirilenko and Al Jefferson. "It's not going to be like that every night, where it is wide open and we are getting 120-something points."
But it sure is some sort of fun for the fans when it happens.
Especially when it includes game-changing highlights like this one did.
Two of the most eye-popping plays happened in consecutive trips down the court in the second quarter when the Jazz (27-13) used a 14-0 run to distance themselves from the eight-win Cavs en route to a season-best half that included a 39-point second quarter.
The play that was predicted in the locker room to end up No. 1 on SportsCenter's Top 10 list about sent the ESA roof into orbit and ignited Utah to its third win in a row.
While pushing the ball up the right side of the lane, Earl Watson flicked a pass behind his back to a trailing Andrei Kirilenko. The Russian/American forward then mimicked Watson with his own behind-the-back pass to Ronnie Price, who finished off the double dose of precise passing with a layup.
"Coach Sloan designed that play," Watson said with a smile.
Watson credited Kirilenko for making the tougher of the two tricky tosses.
"For A.K. to see the second play to be the same way is a quick instinctual thing," Watson said. "He has a knack for that and he is very talented, and Ronnie just put it in."
The stunning succession gave the Jazz their first double-digit lead at 42-31 after Utah only led Cleveland by six after the first quarter.
"Crazy," Price said.
"It changed the momentum for our team," Watson added.
Price then sparked another crowd roar when he stole a pass to kick off a fast break that ended with Miles elevating up, up and over Cleveland's J.J. Hickson. After Miles' monstrous dunk and free throw, Price hit a 3-pointer, Kirilenko sank a jumper and the Jazz suddenly had an 18-point lead over the Cavs (8-31) two nights after their 55-point landslide loss to the Lakers.
To Cleveland's credit, despite just having nine players in uniform, the Cavs trimmed Utah's 20-point halftime lead down to six in the third quarter. But the Jazz had far too much firepower, and a mixture of second unit guys and starters helped the home team quickly rebuild the lead back up to 21 a few minutes into the fourth.
"We had a terrific first half," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "It looked like it really dissipated really fast in the second (half), but our bench both times gave us a lot of energy, pushing the ball up the floor, got a couple of easy baskets."
While Utah improved to 6-1 when every starter scores 10 or more, the reserves deserved a lot of the credit. Utah's subs outscored Cleveland's unit 39-28 while giving the Jazz 11 assists, nine steals and four blocks.
"It's that second group. They bring us a lot of energy," Williams said. "They have been picking up full court. Ronnie and Earl were flying around disrupting people bringing up the ball. ... It takes them out of their rhythm. It gets them out of their offense."
And gives TV producers some pretty darn good footage in the process.
NOTES: Utah begins a four-game East Coast trip Monday in Washington with an 11 a.m. game against the Wizards. ... The Jazz improved to 18-1 when leading after three and to 20-1 when hitting the century mark in scoring. ... Utah tied its season-high with 10 3-pointers while making a season-best 16 steals.
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