The Utah Jazz reigned victorious last night in their home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Thanks to a culmination of toughness, energy, scoring, running, and smart plays, things fell perfectly into place for the Jazz as they bounded away from the Cavs in the first half. Cleveland, however, managed to come back in the fourth quarter and tie the game with a nail-biting 30 seconds left on the clock. The Jazz persevered though as one of Gordon Hayward’s many phenomenal plays came in the form of a two-point buzzer-beater.
Hayward seemingly outplayed Cavs star LeBron James throughout most of the game. He performed aggressively and used his high basketball IQ to make smart, calculated plays. It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that Hayward even missed a shot. Hayward’s shining moment, perhaps, came as he flawlessly executed the “LeBron Block” on LeBron. He swatted away LeBron’s attempted shot at the basket and ended up slamming home a dunk of his own just seconds later.
It wasn’t just Hayward who had an outstanding night, either. The entire Jazz team showed up for last night’s showdown. For starters, Derrick Favors set the tone of the game in the first quarter when he straight up owned the paint. Rudy Gobert’s 7’9” wingspan made him the ideal human eraser: he chalked up an impressive seven blocks. Jazz center Enes Kanter put 15 points on the board and forward Trevor Booker pitched in with nine points and four rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting. Booker also slammed a Superman-esque dunk with one minute left in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the Cavs were experiencing a totally different story. From the beginning of the game it didn’t seem like the team was prepared for the hustle of the Jazz. LeBron, for one, was not on point. He had three turnovers in the first half and missed shots he has been notorious for making. Cleveland also suffered the big consequences of little mistakes. For example, the Cavs only had three assists halfway into the third quarter. The Jazz had 18. Behind by 11 points at halftime, the Cavs were only shooting at 40 percent. The Jazz were at 59 percent.
All in all, the Jazz simply outplayed the Cavaliers. They executed a quick, impactful offense and dominated an aggressive defense. They made unselfish plays and hustled on the court. Best of all, they communicated and played like a solid winning team should.