SALT LAKE CITY — Exactly two weeks before Friday night’s game between the Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers at Vivint Arena, Jae Crowder and Kyle Korver returned to play in Cleveland for the first time since both getting traded to Utah within the last year.
On Friday, Rodney Hood and Alec Burks, the former Jazzmen sent to the Cavaliers in the deals, came back to play in Salt Lake City for the first time.
Posted on the wall of the visiting locker room Friday were signs welcoming the pair back, and about 90 minutes before tipoff, Burks and Utah front office leaders Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik saw each other and embraced in the hallway. A few moments later, Hood emerged from a training room and chatted with an usher.
With Hood and Burks being in Cleveland’s starting lineup, Jazz public address announcer Dan Roberts gave both players a special welcome pregame, and fans cheered for the duo (Burks received a noticeably louder ovation than Hood) as their names were called.
“They showed me a lot of love,” Burks said postgame. “I was here for seven-and-a-half years, and they showed their love for me, and I appreciate that.”
Hood was particularly happy to have the chance to see a number of people he came to know during his nearly four years in the Beehive State.
“It felt good before the game just being back in town and seeing some old faces, walking in the arena seeing some of the security guards that I used to dap up every single game and of course seeing my old teammates,” he said. “It was good seeing some season-ticket holders, people I saw at every game. It was good.”
Once the game tipped off, both players were active early to varying degrees of success. In the first 5:40 of the opening quarter, Burks had four points on 2-of-2 shooting with a rebound and a steal, while Hood was 0-for-2 with a rebound and two turnovers.
At that point, Utah coach Quin Snyder called timeout with the game tied 9-9, and Hood and Burks were recognized again by Roberts and the crowd.
On a night the Cavaliers scored just 60 points through three quarters before ultimately losing 115-99, both Hood and Burks struggled for the most part. Hood finished with four points, a rebound, an assist, a steal and two turnovers in 17 minutes while Burks had six points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, a rebound and a block in 24 minutes.
Burks’ block came against Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
“That’s six years in the making, just talking,” Burks said. “It was fun.”Comment on this story
The Colorado product noted that he’s still adjusting to life in Cleveland, as he’s been there just over a month, while Hood said he, his wife and kids are pretty well used to their new surroundings.
“It’s been cool,” Hood said. “My family is settled in there. I’m finding my way around, so it’s been good.”
Crowder scored 11 points with five rebounds, four assists, a block and two turnovers in 22 minutes, while Korver finished with seven points, two rebounds and an assist, also in 22 minutes on the floor.