Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Jazz: ‘We took all 48 minutes of it seriously’

The Utah Jazz came into Wednesday’s game against the Cavs, a depleted team. The Jazz had six players out due to health and safety protocols, including Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay, and Hassan Whiteside. 

The Cavs took full advantage of it.

Cleveland had six players in double figures as they went into Utah and routed the Jazz 111-91 at Vivint Arena. The 20-point win was the largest victory by the Cavs in Utah in team history.

The Cavs(24-18) have won two straight and are 3-1 on their current six-game west coast trip.

Utah(28-14) has now lost four straight.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Darius Garland messed around and got his first career triple-double. The third-year guard had 11 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high 15 assists. Garland registered his triple-double after three quarters. The only player in Cavs history to have a triple-double after three quarters is LeBron James. 

-Lamar Stevens had a career-high 23 points. Stevens went off as he scored 15 of the team’s 30 points in the third, including 11 straight for the Cavs. On Sunday, Stevens had a then career-high 17 points against Golden State, and he surpassed that Wednesday night.

“I got lost in the moment,” Stevens said about his big third quarter. “I was able to pick and choose my spots. I just felt really confident, and I was just riding that confidence and allowing my game to just take me to those 15 points.”

-Lauri Markkanen busted out for the Cavs. He scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds. 

Markkanen was 8/11 from the floor, including four threes. It was Markkanen’s first 20-point game since December 26.

-Evan Mobley had another Evan Mobley-type game. The rookie had a double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and he added five assists. Mobley became the first Cavs’ rookie to have 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists since, guess who, LeBron James. 

-Third Quarter: Cleveland broke the game open in the third after leading 58-52 at halftime. The Cavs outscored Utah 30-16 in the quarter, including an 21-0 run to take their largest lead of 25 points. Utah couldn’t make shots as they went 5/23 from the floor. 

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Nothing! Nothing at all!

Bottom Line:

Even though they beat a depleted Jazz team, this is still a quality win for Cleveland. This was the type of performance we saw from the Cavs when they were blowing teams out during their six-game win streak. It was a team effort during that streak, and we saw the Cavs have a team effort Wednesday night. 

In addition, when Markkanen plays the way he did against the Jazz, Cleveland is tough to beat. He can make shots, and the Cavs will only get better if he gets a little more consistent with his shot-making. Cleveland is 5-2 when Markkanen scores 20-plus points. 

“We didn’t start messing with the game,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We took all 48 minutes of it seriously.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland travels to San Antonio to battle the Spurs Friday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Kevin Love added 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench; Jarrett Allen chipped in with 12 points and seven rebounds. 

– Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 22 points off the bench.

-Cleveland outrebounded the Jazz 50-32.

-Rajon Rondo(hamstring) missed Wednesday’s win over Utah.

Watch below as Stevens and Garland talk win over Utah:

Cavs’ Garland on missed final shot against Jazz: ‘I work on that shot every day’

On Sunday, the Cleveland Cavaliers returned home to face the Utah Jazz after an undefeated three-game road trip, which included wins against all plus .500 teams.

The Cavs(13-11) battled hard against Utah(16-7), but their three-game winning streak would be snapped as they fell short to the Jazz 109-108.

Utah has now won four straight and five of their last six.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Jazz.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-For the first time in his career, Darius Garland had his second straight 30-point game. Garland scored 31 points(11/19 FG), including a game-high five threes, to go along with five assists, four rebounds, and a career-high-tying four steals. The third-year guard scored 32 against Washington on Friday night.

-Jarrett Allen had his career-high seventh straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. He also added two blocks and two steals. Allen went head-to-head with Rudy Gobert and played very well.

-Evan Mobley had his sixth double-double of the season with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and a block. This is Mobley’s 13th consecutive game with a block.

-Cedi Osman returned after missing three games with a back injury, and he scored 11 points off the bench. After the Jazz took a 15-point lead in the fourth, Osman helped ignite a 15-0 run for the Cavs as he scored five points during that stretch, which tied the game at 97.

-Ricky Rubio scored in double figures for the first time in four games as he had 15 points, four rebounds, and two assists off the Cavs’ bench. He added five points in the fourth during the big 15-0 run by Cleveland.

Fourth Quarter: The Cavaliers outscored the Jazz 26-18 in the quarter, including the 15-0 run, and they held Utah to 35% from the field and 3/10 from downtown. Cleveland gave themselves a chance to win in the end with their play in the final period. 

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-The Cavs allowed the Jazz to make 20 threes(20/48) Sunday night. Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and Donovan Mitchell had four threes apiece.

Final Shot: The ball was in the hands of Garland with Cavs down one, and he came up short on a three. He probably could have tried to get a better shot because a made two-point shot wins the game. The last shot wasn’t awful, but it could have been better.

“I work on that shot every day,” Garland said about the final shot.

Bottom Line:

The Utah Jazz are a very good team and put a lot of pressure on teams with their ability to make the three-point shot. Cleveland fought in this one, especially in that fourth quarter.

The Cavs have played a lot of good teams so far this season and just played four straight games against plus .500 team, including tonight’s contest against Utah. During that stretch, they are 3-1.

That’s a win for Cleveland.

What’s Next:

Cleveland will play the second half of a back-to-back in Milwaukee against the world champion Bucks on Monday night.

Best of the Rest:

Utah had five players in double figures as Donovan Mitchell had a game-high 35 points, Bogdanovic added 16 points, Rudy Gobert chipped in with 6 points, and game-highs in rebounds(20) and blocks(5).

Watch below as Garland, Osman, and Rubio react to the loss against Utah:











76ers’ Morey: ‘Georges(Niang) is a talented player who can stretch the floor’

The 76ers have officially signed F Georges Niang, the team announced on Friday.

According to Marc Stein, it’s a two-year deal worth $6.7 million.

Niang, 28, spent the last four seasons with Utah after spending his rookie year with Indiana. 

Last season, Niang posted career highs of 6.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.8 assists. He also was the only player last season to appear in at least 70 games while shooting at least 40-percent from both the field and three-point range while knocking down at least 95-percent of his attempts from the foul line. 

He is a .404 three-point shooter for his career, a mark that ranks 13th among active NBA players with 600-or-more attempts. This past season, Niang shot nearly 43-percent from three on a career-high 4.1 shots per game.

According to 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, the 6-7 Niang should stretch the floor for Philadelphia next season.

“Georges is a talented player who can stretch the floor, and he immediately bolsters our frontcourt depth,” Morey said via a press release from the team. “He has shot over 40-percent from three for his career and has steadily improved his overall game each season he’s been in the NBA. We’re excited to welcome him to Philadelphia.”

Next season, Niang should fill the void left by Mike Scott off the 76ers’ bench and will be another dependable shooter for Philadelphia.

Australia’s Ingles on playing Team USA: ‘We walked into this game expecting to win’

Before these exhibition games, the USA Mens National Team was 54-2 in exhibition contests since 1992.

However, 2021 is a different world for Team USA.

Two nights after losing to Nigeria, the U.S. lost to Australia 91-83 at Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on Monday night.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, it is the first time Team USA has lost back-to-back exhibition games since professionals started playing in 1992.

Coming into the contest, Australia was ranked third globally by FIBA, and if it was not clear before, it’s clear now that winning a gold medal in Tokyo won’t be easy.

Damian Lillard, who scored 22 points against Australia, sees first-hand how much the world has closed the gap.

“These (international) teams are experienced, and we are still working at becoming a team,” Lillard said. “We’re not just going to roll the ball out and beat these teams … these teams have a starting five of NBA players now.”

Again, the closing of the gap in competition was a point of emphasis for Popovich, who said that believing the U.S. has continually beaten every team by a large margin over the last decade is an error in thinking.

“We have had close games against four or five international teams, and the good teams don’t get blown out,” Popovich said.

Australia was led by Spurs guard Patty Mills, who finished with 22 points and Joe Ingles, a Utah Jazz forward, added 17 points.

According to Ingles, Australia expected to beat the U.S. on Monday night.

“We walked into this game expecting to win,” Ingles said. “No disrespect to them, they’re a hell of a team; obviously, the guys they’ve got on their roster and Pop standing up there is always nice to see, but we came in here expecting to win the game, and that’s what we did.”

Team USA gets back at it on Tuesday night against Argentina. Maybe this will be the night that Team USA puts it all together. 

Photo: (Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)


Gobert, Simmons lead the way on NBA All-Defensive First Team

NBA Defensive Player of the Year Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons lead the 2020-21 NBA All-Defensive First Team, the NBA announced on Monday.  

Joining Gobert and Simmons on the NBA All-Defensive First Team are Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, has been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the fifth season in a row. This marks the second straight First Team selection for Simmons, the runner-up for NBA Defensive Player of the Year this season.  

Green has been selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the fourth time to go with two Second Team honors. Holiday is a First Team honoree for the second time. Antetokounmpo, the 2019-20 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time Kia NBA Most Valuable Player, has earned his third consecutive NBA All-Defensive First Team selection.

The 2020-21 NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo and guard Jimmy Butler, 76ers center Joel Embiid  and guard Matisse Thybulle , and LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team (First Team and Second Team) for the seventh time. This is the fifth NBA All-Defensive Team selection for Butler, the third for Embiid, and the second for Adebayo. Thybulle is making his All-Defensive Team debut in his second NBA season.

Mavs’ Richardson: ‘I think we have a lot of talent from the top to the bottom’

In January, the Dallas Mavericks(28-21) went to Utah to play the Jazz(38-12) in a two-game set, and it was not pretty. Dallas was defeated by double-figures in both games, and was down by 20 points or more in both contests.

Two months later, the Jazz traveled to Dallas to battle the Mavericks on Monday, and this time, it was a much different story. Dallas had five players in double figures led by Luka Doncic’s game-high 31 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists. Also, Dorian Finney-Smith had a season-high 23 points, and Jalen Brunson added 20 points off the bench as the Mavericks defeated the Jazz 111-103.

Dallas snapped Utah’s nine-game win streak with the win, which was the longest active win streak in the NBA.

“Every win gives you confidence,” Doncic said. “Any NBA team can beat you, so every win gives you confidence. Obviously, this team is first place in the West, and so it is a big win, and we just have to keep rolling like this.”

The Mavericks are rolling right now. They have now won five straight games, marking their longest win streak of the season. Dallas has won those five games by an average of 13.8 points. In addition, the team has won 13 of its last 18 games and 20 of its last 28 games.

“I like what we’re doing,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “I like the direction that we’re going. But if you ask the guys in that locker room, they’re going to tell you we haven’t done anything yet; there’s a long way to go here. There’s a lot of ground to make up that we lost early. We’re trying to get into the top six. We’re really not looking at the standings, but we’re just looking game to game.”

Dallas was without their second-leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis(wrist), but without KP, others stepped up and got it done, which speaks to the Mavericks’ depth. Josh Richardson, who had 17 points against the Jazz, discussed how deep Dallas is this season.

“I think we have a lot of talent from the top to the bottom,” he said. “Anytime you got a guy like Tim [Hardaway], JB [Jalen Brunson], Trey [Burke], guys who can shift the whole momentum of a game coming off the bench, and that’s always a big help. I think we have the personal that anybody any night can really hurt you.”

Dallas is getting it done, and hopefully, they can get Porzingis back sooner than later, but for now, they enjoy a big win over the best team in basketball.

Conley replaces injured Booker in 2021 NBA All-Star Game

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley has been named by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to replace injured Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker on Team Durant in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, the league announced on Friday.

In addition, Conley will replace Booker in the 2021 MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest, which will be held on March 7 before the NBA All-Star Game.

This is the first NBA All-Star selection for Conley, who is in his 14th season.  He is averaging 16.1 points and 5.7 assists and shooting a career-high 42.2 percent from three-point range in 29 games this season. The 33-year-old Conley has helped the Jazz post an NBA-best 27-9 record.  He joins two Utah teammates, Team LeBron center Rudy Gobert and Team Durant guard Donovan Mitchell, in the NBA All-Star Game.

Booker is unable to play in the NBA All-Star Game or participate in the MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest because of a left knee sprain.  He was named to the NBA All-Star Game by the Commissioner as an injury replacement for Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis.  Booker is averaging 24.9 points and 4.4 assists in 31 games this season.

The NBA All-Star Game and MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest are part of NBA All-Star 2021, which will take place on one night.  TNT’s NBA All-Star coverage on March 7 will begin at 5 p.m. ET with TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by CarMax, followed by the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge and MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.  NBA All-Star Game coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET, with AT&T Slam Dunk taking place at halftime.

Luka on Mavericks: ‘It’s looking like we don’t care, honestly, if we win games or not’

The Mavericks(8-11) two-game set in Utah was not a fun experience for this team. Dallas was outscored 236-205 in the two games, including getting routed by the Jazz 120-101 on Friday night. With the loss, the Mavericks are now on a four-game losing streak.

Dallas scored only 12 points in the first quarter and trailed by 25 points after one. It was an uphill battle for the Mavericks from there, who got the lead down to 13 in the second quarter but could not get any closer than that.

Utah was still without their leading-scorer Donovan Mitchell, but they got a game-high 32 points from Bojan Bogdanovic and 22 points out of Mike Conley. Utah(15-4) is currently on an 11-game winning streak and has the best record in the NBA.

Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with a team-high 25 points, but he was not happy with the team’s effort after the game. 

“Terrible,” Doncic said. “There’s really not much to say. I never felt like this. and we gotta do something because this is not looking good. We gotta step up and just talk to each other, play way better than this. It’s mostly effort…

“Right now, it’s looking like we don’t care, honestly, if we win games or not. More energy, more effort, dive for every ball, box out, everything. There’s a lot of things we can improve, and I know we will, and that’s all that matters there.”

The Mavericks are struggling right now, and maybe it’s effort, or it could be chemistry issues, as Kristaps Porzingis mentioned after Wednesday’s loss to the Jazz. Still, Friday’s loss was disappointing when you consider how poorly they played on Wednesday.

However, still a lot of basketball left and even a lot of time to fix what’s ailing this team. It does not get any easier as they host the Suns on Saturday night. 

Popovich: ‘It’s a sad day for all of us who knew Jerry Sloan’

Former longtime Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan died on Friday. He was 78.

Sloan had been battling Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, and he died from complications of the conditions. Before his coaching career, Sloan played 11 seasons in the NBA with the Bullets and Bulls, and he would retire from the NBA in 1976.

After retiring from the NBA, Sloan would coach the Bulls from 1979-1982, and in 1988, Sloan would coach the Utah Jazz, where he had a lot of success, including two NBA Finals appearances.  Both times in the Finals, the Jazz would lose to Jordan and the Bulls.

He would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. Sloan resigned from the Jazz and ended his coaching career in 2011. After 26 years of coaching(23 with the Jazz), he finished with 1221 wins. 

A man who looked up to Sloan was Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, and on Friday, Popovich issued the following statement regarding the passing of Jerry Sloan:

 “It’s a sad day for all of us who knew Jerry Sloan. Not only on the basketball court but, more importantly, as a human being. He was genuine and true. And that is rare.

 “He was a mentor for me from afar until I got to know him. A man who suffered no fools, he possessed a humor, often disguised, and had a heart as big as the prairie.”  

NBA suspends season after player tests positive for coronavirus

On Wednesday, the NBA announced that it was suspending its season due to the coronavirus. According to reports, Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19(coronavirus).

Before the decision to suspend the season, the league was reportedly looking at playing games without fans, but Gobert’s reported positive test changes things.

Here is a statement from the NBA:

The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of tonight’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, tonight’s game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena.

The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.