With 14 of the next 19 games taking place at EnergySolutions Arena, the Utah Jazz got things started off well Saturday evening. Riding an impressive third quarter, they coasted to an easy 109-98 victory over former Jazzman C.J. Miles and the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.
After not hitting the court since Monday, Utah enjoyed another balanced effort. Ten individuals played 17 or more minutes, with no one exceeding 30. Randy Foye paced the Jazz with 20 points. Talented rookie guard Dion Waiters put in a game-high 23 points (in just 28 minutes) for Cleveland.
In his return, Miles shot just 4 of 11 from the field — including 1 of 6 three-pointers — en route to a 12-point, 36-minute outing.
At the halfway point of the season, the Jazz sit at 22-19 and the seventh seed for the playoffs. Their 13-4 record will only be bolstered over the next several weeks as they spend many games in front of their own fans.
Bullish bench: All season, Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin has relied on his bench. They have been there to maintain leads or, at times, to obtain them. They produced once again, particularly in the second quarter, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Derrick Favors had one of his more comfortable outings. From the get-go, he was aggressive within the team’s offensive sets. He shot 7 of 11 from the floor, scoring 19 points and nabbing eight rebounds. As usual, his defensive intensity made a positive imprint on the game.
Fellow front court stud Enes Kanter was potent, connecting on 7 of 8 field goals. He scored on an array of moves that had Cleveland big men scratching their heads. He corralled five rebounds of his own.
DeMarre Carroll continued his strong play, putting 12 points, five caroms and two steals in a mere 17 minutes. Known for his defense and hustle, Carroll has been very good offensively of late. Combined with Favors and Kanter, the trio shot 19 of 26 field goals.
Last but not least, Earl Watson dished out nine assists.
Gordon Hayward struggled mightily (2-10 for just five points), but given the caliber of his teammates’ contributions, it did not affect the game much.
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- While the bench’s effort is evident, the starters were great, too. Each of the starting five sported a +/- of +eight points or more.
- The passing and teamwork were integral again, with 30 of Utah’s 45 made shots coming off assists.
- Cleveland’s star point guard Kyrie Irving registered 18 points and nine assists but shot just 7-20.
- Young Cavs bigs Cody Keller (13 points and 14 rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (12 and 11) enjoyed double-double nights.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.