Ready to be home. Hopefully we can turn the fact that we have some guys fully healthy into some wins here. —Gordon Hayward
SALT LAKE CITY — The long, five-game road trip was finally over and the Jazz were hours away from sleeping in their own beds for the first time in nine nights when Quin Snyder was reminded about what's ahead.
“Now you’ve got an easy game at home,” the reporter said, trying to lighten the mood after Sunday night’s loss to Memphis at the FedEx Forum.
Snyder cracked a smile and said, “Yeah, they’re all easy in the NBA, right?”
If only it were so. What’s up next for the weary Jazz is a date with the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, who visit Vivint Arena Tuesday night (7 p.m. MT).
It’s not the best news for the Jazz to be playing the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference just after losing games to the No. 2 and 3 teams in the East (Toronto and Boston) as well as the No. 5 team (Memphis) in the Western Conference Sunday night.
They’ll face the 28-8 Cavaliers, who will be on the third game of a six-game Western road swing after edging Phoenix Sunday night, 120-116. The Cavaliers still have their big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and now they’ve added former Jazzman Kyle Korver, who should make his Cavs' debut Tuesday after being acquired from Atlanta.
Snyder called it a “disjointed trip” because his team was trying to reintegrate Alec Burks into the lineup after he’s sat out all season and then not knowing the status of George Hill, who had been knocked out of a New Year’s Eve game against Phoenix because of a concussion and a lacerated lip requiring 22 stitches.
All in all, though, Snyder said he was happy with the road trip as his team was able to beat Brooklyn in the first game of the trip with Hill still out, then make a stirring comeback to defeat Minnesota in Hill’s first game back after his latest injury on Saturday.
The Jazz coach said he didn’t have any goals before the trip and acknowledged that he could have seen his team going 1-4 or 0-5 with Hill getting injured the day before they left. The Jazz thought they’d get Hill back earlier in the week, but he wasn’t fully cleared to play until Saturday night’s game in Minneapolis.
“He thought he was going to be better off than he was and all of a sudden he got 22 stitches and he can’t eat for three days,” Snyder said, who described Hill’s season thus far “as tumultuous and excellent at the same time.”
“There’s some frustration there,” Snyder said. “But every time he’s been able to play, he’s been really, really good.”
In Saturday’s game, Hill led the Jazz scoring with 19 points and added seven assists and five rebounds. He was instrumental in Utah’s rally in the fourth quarter when they finished the game on an 11-0 run for a two-point victory.
“Hopefully I’m back for the rest of the year,” said Hill, who has missed 24 of Utah’s 39 games this year with various injuries. He said he was “a little spaced out” and “gloomy” for a few days, but got his stitches out Friday and said he would be fitted for a mouthpiece now that he’s back in Salt Lake.
“Once you get out there it’s all mind over matter,” he said. “I’m happy to be back and do the best I can.”
The rest of the team is excited to be home and enjoy nine of their next 12 games at Vivint Arena.
“Ready to be home,” said Gordon Hayward following the Memphis game. “Hopefully we can turn the fact that we have some guys fully healthy into some wins here. I know that we’re home for a little while and we're going to try to take advantage of that.”
JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz have three games this week with a rare back-to-back weekend set against Detroit Friday and Orlando Saturday . . . Alec Burks, Dante Exum and Raul Neto, who haven’t been getting many minutes lately for the Jazz, were all “demoted” for a few hours Monday, so they could practice with the Salt Lake City Stars. The trio was assigned to the Stars at 12:25 p.m. and then recalled by 4:50 p.m. The Jazz, returning from their long road trip in the wee hours, didn’t hold a practice Monday . . . The Cavaliers will play Golden State in the final game of their six-game road trip on Monday in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals.