NBA Basketball

Jazz-Cavaliers Preview

The Utah Jazz haven't won in Cleveland in nearly seven years.

Their odds of beating the Cavaliers might be better this time around.

Utah attempts to halt a six-game losing streak in Cleveland when it visits a much different version of the Cavaliers on Friday.

The Jazz (18-20) struggled to win in Ohio against powerful Cleveland teams featuring the likes of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. This time, they face a team with the NBA's worst record at 8-30 while its top player - forward Kevin Love - remains out with a foot injury.

The Cavaliers have lost seven straight games, with three of the setbacks occurring by 20 or more points. Cleveland succumbed 117-92 against the Miami Heat on Wednesday in the opener of a four-game homestand, and coach Larry Drew would like to see a bit more toughness on the court.

"We've got to be grimy as far as our style of play," Drew told reporters afterward. "We can't play cute. We can't play pretty. We've got to get on the floor for loose balls. We've got to get our body on people when they go in (the lane). We've got to do all the little things, which add up to be big things."

The Cavaliers got center Tristan Thompson back after a 10-game absence due to a sprained left foot. He had 14 points in 23 minutes.

Swingman Rodney Hood (Achilles) also returned after missing four games and tallied 13 points in 23 minutes.

Hood will be facing the Jazz for the first time since being traded to Cleveland last February in a deal that brought forward Jae Crowder to Utah. Shooting guard Alec Burks will also be seeing the Jazz for the initial time after being moved in the late-November trade that brought sharpshooter Kyle Korver to Utah.

Korver was part of two Cleveland teams that went to the NBA Finals. He said returning to Cleveland will always be a happy occasion.

"Some people come back with a chip on their shoulder and feel like they've got to give it to the other team, but it's not going to be like that for me," Korver told the Deseret News. "Just a lot of gratitude for the time I had there."

Utah has dropped five of its last six road games as it enters the second contest of a four-game excursion.

The Jazz lost 122-116 to Toronto on Tuesday when Raptors star Kawhi Leonard scored a career-best 45 points.

Crowder was hot for Utah with a career-best 30 points. He knocked down 5 of 7 3-point attempts and collected six rebounds in 26 minutes.

"Jae had a spectacular game," Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell told reporters. "He came ready, knocked down shots - that's what he does."

Mitchell averaged 27.5 points and shot 63.6 percent from the field in two games against the Cavaliers last season.

Mitchell's emergence as a rookie last season helped lead to the trade of Hood to Cleveland. Hood told reporters he is looking forward to playing against his former organization.

"We're not in the same conference or nothing like that, so one game doesn't really mean anything in the grand scheme of things," said Hood, "but it'll be fun just to go against them."

Utah's last win in Cleveland was a 109-100 decision on March 5, 2012. Each team still has one player who played in that game -- power forward Derrick Favors for the Jazz and Thompson for the Cavaliers. James was on the Miami Heat and hadn't yet returned for his second stint in Cleveland.

Updated January 3, 2019

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