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Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Jazz Crush Decimated Cavaliers To Conclude Road Trip

Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz finished their road trip with a dominant 117-87 win over the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers.

The win gave the Jazz a winning record on the road trip, finishing 4-2 despite ugly losses against the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks in stops two and three of the trip.

Donovan Mitchell continued his hot streak to finish the stretch away from home scoring 27 points on 9-15 shooting. Mitchell had averaged 30 points per game over the team’s previous two outings and saw a spike in his efficiency in Cleveland.

Bojan Bogdanovic added 20 points on a 6-10 shooting night. The forward hasn’t been able to find any consistency this season, so any hint of progress is a good sign.

Cavaliers Aren’t Very Good, Yet

The Jazz caught the Cavaliers at a particularly good time. Cleveland was missing three, four, and potentially five starters when you consider Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Dante Exum, and Andre Drummond all missed the game. Kevin Love, also ar regular starter, has appeared in just two games this season.

The Cavaliers already are one of the less talented teams in the NBA, despite their 5-6 record entering the game, and as a result, they’re forced to play an ugly, rugged style of game. To this point in the season, it’s earned them the best defensive rating in the NBA and the worst offensive rating in the league.

This shouldn’t be unfamiliar to the Jazz who followed a similar path when they began their rebuild, relying on defense effort due to a lack of offensive talent. The Jazz broke out of that stretch with the development of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, plus the additions of Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Jordan Clarkson.

While the Cavaliers are bad now, this is the right strategy for a team that needs to learn how to play the right way.

With Sexton and Garland, they have good backcourt pieces that should develop into consistent scorers, but learning how to defend first is important.

They’re still short a proven frontcourt player, and could be a fit to make a move for Atlanta Hawks big man John Collins, but they don’t need to rush their rebuild.

Isaac Okoro will be a nice piece for the Cavaliers as well. They are well below the salary cap over the next few seasons, so the two years and $60 million remaining on Love’s contract isn’t the albatross it could be otherwise, but finding a way to get anything in return for him would be a plus.

Considering Cleveland lost one of the two best basketball players to ever walk the Earth with no assets in return, they’ve done an admirable job in the early stages of their rebuild.

Jazz Don’t Play To The Level Of Their Opponent

Unlike the Jazz loss to the short-handed Brooklyn Nets, the Jazz no issues playing to the level of their opponent.

First, it should be noted that not all short-handed teams are created equaled. The Nets still had Kyrie Irving whose superstar first quarter ended the game before it began. Even if the Cavaliers were fully healthy, they likely aren’t as talented as the Nets without Kevin Durant.

But, on the final game of a six-game road trip, with a pregame surprise that Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards would be canceled, the Jazz could have come out flat and they didn’t.

“We came out with a good mindset on the defensive end in the third quarter, so we’ve just got to keep working,” Snyder said. “It starts with Mike and Don and those guys being up the floor — pick up points, pressuring the ball, using their quickness. And that set the tone for us.”

The Jazz led by four at the end of one, 13 at the half, 28 after three quarters, and won by 30.

Cleveland was outmatched from the opening tip, and the Jazz never let them find a spark and coasted to an easy victory.

“Every team comes out there to compete and to try to win,” Jordan Clarkson said. “But sometimes I feel like we do get lackadaisical with the ball, we turn the ball over, and lose focus.”

Clarkson sparked the Jazz in the first half scoring 14 of his 21 total points in the first two quarters.

Jazz End Road Trip Early

The Jazz road trip ended prematurely as just before the game against the Cavaliers began, it was announced that the team’s final game of their seven-game road trip against the Washington Wizards had been canceled.

The Wizards were already without Thomas Bryant who was lost for the season earlier this week with a torn ACL, and Russell Westbrook who was set to miss a week with a hip injury.

Early Tuesday both Moritz Wagner and Rui Hachimura were placed in the NBA’s safety protocol after coming into contact with COVID-19. Though the Wizards didn’t announce who else had been exposed, it must have been a significant number of players in a relatively short period of time.

In the Wizards’ win Monday night over the Phoenix Suns, 12 players suited up, including both Wagner and Hachimura. As it’s unlikely those players both got first exposure between Monday night’s win and Tuesday morning’s daily tests, the Suns will have to be anxiously tracking their exposure as well.

It’s the first cancellation of the season for the Jazz who were at the center of the league’s postponement last season when Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for the virus in March.

“We were aware of that all day waiting for a lot of the contract contact tracing to take place,” Snyder said of the Wizards players in quarantine. “It didn’t factor into how we played the game. We wanted to come out and play the right way.”

The Jazz and Wizards should have an opportunity to make up the game in the second half of the season, but it’s a difficult one-off for the Jazz. Had it been a Western Conference opponent, or a home game, the Jazz could have easily made up the game on the second night of a back to back.

But with the game needing to be played on the other side of the country, the Jazz will have to hope they have space after a meeting with the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, or Chicago Bulls to play the Wizards, or risk having to take a bizarre one day trip to the nation’s capital.

Miye Oni Has Hip Hop Album

Miye Oni saw the floor for the Jazz in the absence of Joe Ingles. The second-year guard scored six points and grabbed three rebounds in nearly 18 minutes on the floor.

However, that likely wasn’t the most exciting thing to happen to Oni this week. The guard released his first musical album, titled “Lost Angels” under the name TGF Prince.

Oni’s teammates took to Instagram earlier in the week to show support for the guard, despite not directly addressing that the Yale product had created the album.

“That was supposed to be under wraps,” Oni admitted. “Just a hobby though. Yeah, they were posting it, but, I’ll just focus on the season, though.”

Oni has a musical background, having grown up playing the viola as a child.

“I’ve always been writing,” Oni said. “Whether it’s poems or essays. I started writing songs, writing since I was like 15. Then I started recording during quarantine.”

The album has nine tracks and is available on Itunes.

The Jazz next game is scheduled for Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks in Salt Lake City.

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