Odds against Jazz in matchup vs. Cavaliers
CLEVELAND -- If you believe in scheduled losses, Saturday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers sure looks like one for the Utah Jazz.
To wit: The Jazz are smack in the middle of a brutal six-game road trip. Yes, Utah beat the Boston Celtics 107-95 on Friday, but then had to fly two hours to play a rested Cavaliers team that has been home and beating teams there all week.
The Jazz had dropped four straight before the win over the Celtics, but lost its two starting bigs -- Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors -- to injuries in the first half. Favors (stitches above his eye) would be more likely to play Saturday than Gobert (left knee injury).
Favors passed concussion protocol, while ESPN speculated that Gobert may have suffered an MCL sprain. Coach Quin Snyder told reporters Gobert, who's already missed time with a knee injury this season, had a "sore knee."
"It was an excellent effort and we managed to continue to try to do the things we felt we had to do to win the game, no matter who was out there," Snyder said. "Obviously Ekpe (Udoh), with Derrick (Favors) and Rudy (Gobert) out, did a terrific job. Ricky (Rubio) was great and it was good to see Ricky in the moment and competing. This group has got character and they're going to compete no matter the circumstances and they did."
The Jazz were led Friday by Rubio's 22 points. Jonas Jerebko and Rodney Hood scored 17 apiece off the bench, and rookie Donovan Mitchell scored 17 despite a 6-of-18 shooting performance.
Utah hasn't won a game in Cleveland since March 5, 2012. And LeBron James is averaging 30 points at home against the Jazz over the last three seasons.
The Cavs remain the NBA's hottest team with wins in 16 of their last 17 games. They've also won 10 straight at home, and James is averaging a triple-double in those games (29.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 10.2 assists).
"He's the best player in the world, he better (carry us)," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "He's going to carry a team. That's what he's been doing his whole career. But we got a lot of guys that are playing well and chipping in and helping him. ... A lot of guys are chipping in, playing well and that's what we need: a total team effort."
Perhaps Cleveland's biggest surprise has been the play of 36-year-old point guard Jose Calderon, who's 12-2 overall as a starter this season. He's averaging 12 points and shooting .66.7 percent (12 of 18) from 3-point range over his last four games, with 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals.
"First of all he's a true professional," James said. "And that's what we have around here. Guys that show up, no matter when they're number's called, they're just ready to go. But at the end of the day, it takes a little time to get into a new system and this is a new system for him."
Tristan Thompson is expected to return for a few minutes against the Jazz, according to cleveland.com, following his late scratch before Thursday's win over the Lakers due to left calf soreness. He has missed 20 games this season because of the injury.
Updated December 15, 2017