Utah Jazz’s Struggles On The Road Continue Against Cavaliers

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The Utah Jazz (10-18) were defeated on Wednesday night by the Cleveland Cavaliers (16-12) 124-116. It’s a poor start to a five-game road trip that takes the Jazz north to Toronto and south to San Antonio in the next eight days.

The Jazz fell behind early to an 11-point deficit by the end of the first quarter. By halftime they had closed the gap to five points, and even took a lead mid way through the third. They were aided by a strong game from forward Lauri Markkanen and a standout performance by John Collins from the bench. Utah led by as many as four points in the third quarter before collapsing to an inescapable deficit.

The crew from SLC have struggled on the road this season, posting a record of 2-13 away from Utah. They will need to improve these fortunes over the next week to stay in playoff contention halfway through their season.


Lauri Markkanen scored 26 points in 36 minutes of play on Wednesday night. To that, he added 10 rebounds to an impressive stat line that helped the Jazz make up their deficits. It’s the most in either category since he posted 38 points and 17 rebounds in a double-overtime loss to the Suns in November.

Markkanen is clearly the player that the Utah Jazz are depending on for their core production. He doesn’t disappoint, especially in terms of “big man” stats, consistently getting points under the basket and chasing down rebounds. 

At seven feet tall, Markkanen should be contributing more defensive hustle with blocks and general presence under the basket. Under the circumstances, in scoring he’s holding up his end of the deal but there’s always room for improvement.


Forward John Collins soared off the bench midway through the first quarter with an alley-oop dunk. In the second quarter he added two consecutive clutch three-pointers to help close the Cavaliers lead to six.

Talen Horton-Tucker also contributed 11 assists, on-point finding open shooters despite missing his sole three-point attempt and adding a respectable 19 points.

If the Jazz are to win some of these games against playoff-caliber teams, they need production from the bench. Collins, unfortunately, was the only non-starter to contribute significant numbers.


The Utah Jazz need defensive hustle, plain and simple. They’re expert at setting screens and getting the ball around to all of their shooters, but the lack of effort to take away the ball keeps them from controlling the pace of the game.

They seem built to be an outside shooting team, and they execute that well. However, even in modern basketball with players of all sizes who can sink three-pointers, ranged shooting is low-percentage and highly inconsistent compared to playing stout inside. There has to be balance, and ball control, especially with all these bigger and heavier players. 

To create more shooting opportunities they need to be savagely gunning for the ball and creating chaos on the defensive end of the floor.


@ Detroit Pistons

December 21, 2023, 4:00PM MST

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