Dribbles: Cavs Fail to Rise at Right Time in Loss to Jazz

Random dribbles after the Cavaliers’ 116-114 road loss to the Jazz. …Donovan Mitchell

1. This is one that got away. There’s really no other way to put it. The Cavs had it won … and then they lost it.

2. Yes, there were a couple of weird calls against Caris LeVert on Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson that made an impact. Let’s face it, the Flagrant-1 against LeVert on Clarkson’s 3-pointer was bogus. That was a killer. There’s a reason many of the NBA’s leading scorers are efficient 3-point shooters, and it’s seemingly because the league won’t let you try to defend them.

3. That said, the Cavs still had their chances. But they needed someone besides Donovan Mitchell (46 points), Darius Garland (21), and the forever-husting Lamar Stevens (11 on 5-of-6 shooting) to step up consistently.

4. Granted, it didn’t help that the Cavs lost Jarrett Allen to illness early in the game. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters that both Allen and Isaac Okoro were nauseous after the game. As relayed by Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, Bickerstaff suspected it was something they ate.

5. Overall, it was a great return trip to Utah for Mitchell, but not so much for the Cavs. They had their chances, and on the road, you need to capitalize on those. Lousy officiating aside, Cleveland faded late.

6. Mitchell said he was appreciative of the warm reception delivered by Jazz fans. Bickerstaff said he was just appreciative of Mitchell. “He was Donovan,” Bickerstaff said. β€œHe was trying to will us through it.”

7. Once again, it almost worked. The Cavs got down by 13, came back to seemingly take control, and again, blew it. That’s not meant to be overly harsh. That’s just what happened.

8. LeVert (12 points) had a decent game, but missed a good look at a three late that seemed to be a momentum-changer. That happens. This was no one person’s fault and the Cavs (25-16) needn’t focus on this particular night. Let it sting, then move on.

9. LeVert on the two fouls called against him on Clarkson, via Fedor: “Feel like they were bad calls. First one was a push off and then he kicked his legs. Second one, he kind of jumped backwards. Regardless of that, I have to expect the ref to make a bad call and just be that much better defensively. I will be.”

10. The only part I disagree with there was that he should expect the ref to make a bad call. We should expect them to make the right one — or at least correct it when they don’t.

11. Garland finished with four turnovers, including one late that also hurt. He’s a fantastic young player, but he has to do a better job of taking care of the ball, especially in the second half.

12. Clarkson (32 points) and Lauri Markkanen (25 points, 16 rebounds) are former Cavs who led the Jazz. Collin Sexton again didn’t play. By the way, the Cavs landed Dante Exum in that trade for Clarkson.

13. President of basketball operations Koby Altman generally wins or at least ties in most trades. He lost that one. No biggie, though. The Cavs are pretty good as is. So Altman gets an A-plus these days.

14. Next up: A visit to the Trail Blazers. The Cavs generally don’t fare well in Portland. They won their last season — but for the first time in eight years. And the Blazers are coming off a home loss to the lowly Magic. So this one will be extra tough.

15. Kevin Love was just 3-of-12 shooting for six points, but collected nine rebounds. That gave him 4,459 boards with the Cavs and enabled him to pass Anderson Varejao for sixth on Cleveland’s career list.

16. Finally, you can check out the latest on the Cavs’ potential pursuit of another wing at this link.

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  1. I always LOVE your “Dribbles”. They’re always insightful, loaded with MANY good points.

    You’re often a little more generous than I am, particularly with the forgiveness of Darius’ multiple turnovers & attempts to do more than he should in the penetration department. His going up into the “towering trees” a little too far & a little too late in the shot clock too present some difficulties. Yes he’s still quite young & super talented.
    But I really think he’s still feeling some vision effects of that Toronto eye scratch. He’s off a lot more than last year’s Darius. I feel he’s also TRYING to seemingly match Donovan’s seasoned will to win, which he currently can NOT do as well as he would like, & also there’s that getting BUMPED a LOT without getting the calls.

    I’m delighted to see you mentioned No. 11 about the turnovers- they ARE a big problem.
    I’m also glad you mentioned No.12, the Officiating, It TOO, IS a BIG problem — ie: Darius’ eye scratch was never called a foul & if they aren’t going to protect players, why play at all. Why even have officials if it’s not going to be called correctly. There ARE RULES.

    Markkanen’s Progress is amazing. & yes, I was vocal about the trade. Mixed emotions, I really LIKED getting Donovan, but HATED losing Markkanen. Now most can see why.

    Keep them Dribbles coming

    • Well, I appreciate you taking the time to read and always appreciate your comments and insights as well. So thank YOU! (And that’s a good point about Garland’s eye. I wonder if that does indeed play a role. As well as his attempts to try to take over, a la Mitchell, as you mentioned.)

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