Go LeBron, it’s your birthday. We’re gonna party like it’s your birthday.
Simply put, The King had his way with the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Unfortunately, the rest of the Cavaliers did not.
The Cavaliers fell to the Utah Jazz by a final score of 104-101 on Saturday to conclude a rather bumpy road trip. While the King poured in 29 points and Kevin Love added 20 points, it appeared as if the rest of the starters didn’t wake up for this one.
Jose Calderon, JR Smith, and Jae Crowder scored a combined eight points. Eight.
That won’t win a team many games.
On the opposing end, highlight-reel rookie Donovan Mitchell continued his ascent to the top of the 2017 rookie class right amongst Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum. Mitchell dazzled the Utah crowd and finished with a team-high 29 points.
Perhaps the play that summed up the night perfectly was Mitchell cocking back for a monster slam over Dwyane Wade late in the fourth quarter.
Time for the Cavs to head back home and regroup. But first, here are your three takeaways from the third-straight loss for Cleveland.
1. LeBron Shines On His Birthday- Okay, okay, I know. LeBron James is the best player on the planet and always shines on the court. However, this is the first time in four years that an NBA crowd was treated to a birthday performance by James. And he surely didn’t disappoint.
LeBron finished with 29 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. He continued to force his will inside once he understood his three-point shot was not falling. The only thing that was not pleasant about his performance was the 1-of-7 mark from behind the arc. Besides that, it was another successful night for the King.
Happy 33rd Birthday, ‘Bron.
2. Jazz’ Group Effort Reigns Supreme- The Jazz may not have a top-ten player just yet but when any team can get five players to score in the double-digits, it usually signals that it’s going to be a long night for the opposition. That was the case tonight for Cleveland.
While the Cavs did not have much success from their starting five, the Jazz had the opposite happen from their bunch. Four of the five starters scored in double-digits and it completely overwhelmed Cleveland for most of the night. As Mitchell and Ricky Rubio stretched the floor out, Derrick Favors, Thabo Sefolosha, and Joe Ingles attacked the key. It was a well-oiled machine that saw Utah knock off San Antonio a few games ago.
Even in victories, the Cavaliers seem to struggle in holding the starting five in check. That needs to change.
3. The Grass Is Greener On The Bench- Take it as a pun or not, the Cavaliers bench is the most positive thing about this team. The trio of Jeff Green, Dwyane Wade, and Kyle Korver continue to wow the masses and tonight it was Green stealing the show.
Green finished with 22 points and five rebounds and tried his best to make up for the lack of production that the Cavs’ starting five provided but it did not result in a victory. However, Green proves nightly how important he is to the squad with his ability to not only shoot the ball well and attack the paint but also his superb defense.
At the end of the season, no matter what happens, Cleveland general manager Koby Altman will get a nice pat on the back for what was a very underrated signing this offseason.