SALT LAKE CITY — Everyone knew the Utah Jazz would miss the presence of Gordon Hayward in Friday night's game against Cleveland.
But it's highly doubtful that anybody would've predicted what happened — and what kind of misery would eventually befall the Jazz — without having Hayward on the court.
With Hayward sidelined by a hip injury, the Cavaliers got superb performances from Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters and former Jazzman C.J. Miles and piled up 67 second-half points on their way to a surprisingly easy 113-102 victory at EnergySolutions Arena.
"We need all of our pieces," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said, "and Gordon's a big part of what we're doing.
"With him being out, we knew we had to step up — not just one guy, the team had to step up and rally around each other. ... Him being on the floor helps us a lot. We miss him on both ends of the floor.
"And I thought we weathered the storm in the first half," Corbin said. "Second half, we just didn't come out with the same sense of urgency."
Indeed, with Hayward — Utah's leading scorer who was coming off a career-best 37-point outburst three nights earlier in a win against Oklahoma City — out of the lineup with a strained left hip flexor, the Jazz still managed to scrap their way to a 49-46 halftime lead.
But the second half was all Cleveland (13-23), which came into the game with the league's worst road record (2-15) by far.
"It was a big win for us," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "As you know, we've been struggling on the road, so for us to come out here and get a win in this building (is big against) these guys — I don't care who's on the floor for them. ... We've struggled no matter who is in uniform for the other team."
With Irving, Cleveland's All-Star point guard, leading the way, the Cavs went on a 13-2 run over the last two minutes of the third quarter, part of a 39-point outburst in the third period that turned their three-point halftime deficit into a 15-point lead, 85-70, entering the final frame.
"I feel like in the second half, we were just feeding off one another's energy," Irving said. "We picked up our pace on both ends of the floor, trying to get multiple stops. That led to our fast-break points. We were just taking advantage of the easy baskets."
With the Cavaliers clinging to a 72-68 lead, Irving benefitted from Utah point guard Trey Burke being stuck on the bench in foul trouble while his Cavs' counterpart scored eight straight points in less than a minute.
Irving started his one-man uprising with an 18-foot jumper, then buried back-to-back 3s to extend Cleveland's lead to 80-68. He then stole the ball and fed Waiters for a dunk at the other end to make it 82-68.
After John Lucas III scored to stop the Cavs' 10-0 run, Jarrett Jack nailed a 3 at the third-quarter horn to make it 85-70.
"He got his rhythm and he's that kind of player," Corbin said of Irving, who scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the third period. "He just decided to take it upon himself to pick it up there, and we didn't match his intensity."
In the fourth quarter, Cleveland extended its margin to as many as 20 points before settling for the eventual 11-point victory.
Irving's 25 points paced seven Cavs in double figures, and he also had a game-high eight assists as well as six rebounds and five steals. Thompson had 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds that helped Cleveland to a 45-34 advantage on the backboards.
Miles, who spent seven seasons in a Jazz uniform and popped in 10 3-pointers in his previous game, added 17 points on the strength of some slick 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Waiters scored 17 points off the bench, while Jack had a dozen and newly acquired Luol Deng contributed 10, as did Tyler Zeller off the bench.
For Utah (12-26), Richard Jefferson led the scoring with 18 points, Burke had 17 with six assists, and Alec Burks — moved into the starting lineup in Hayward's absence — had 16 points. Enes Kanter contributed 15 and 10 boards off the bench.
The loss stopped Utah's four-game winning streak at home, and Corbin said his team, which had a couple of days off between games, can't simply count on the home-court advantage to be enough to pull the Jazz through every time.10 comments on this story
"You still have to play the games, though, and it's not going to be easy," he said. "People think because you're home and you've got a little space to play (it'll be easy).
"We've got to understand what it takes for us to be successful every night out on the floor. And after a big win the other night, it happens. We have a big win the other night against a great opponent in Oklahoma City, and you look at Cleveland's record and think that you've arrived and you get beat.
"And these guys played hard; give them the credit," he said of the Cavs. "We just didn't match their intensity."