The Utah Jazz had their worst offensive game of the season their last time out, but still managed to win. The Cleveland Cavaliers got another outstanding performance from LeBron James in their last game, but it still wasn’t enough to win.
That’s the way things are going right now for these two teams.
The Jazz look to win their sixth straight game on Friday when they wrap up their season series with the Cavaliers, who are trying to avoid dropping their third in a row.
Northwest Division-leading Utah (7-2) leads the league in scoring (109.7 points per game) and is second in field-goal percentage (49.3 percent), but had season lows in both categories Wednesday. The Jazz overcame their 42.9-percent shooting night to beat Toronto 92-88, notching their longest winning streak since a six-game run Feb. 28-March 10.
“You’ve just got to keep playing,” said Carlos Boozer, who is averaging 27.2 points and 11.6 rebounds during Utah’s five-game win streak. “You can’t go through 82 games in perfect harmony. Some games are going to be difficult and (Wednesday) was definitely difficult.”
The Jazz look to get back on track offensively as they visit Cleveland, which is allowing an average of 119.5 points on 51.2 percent shooting in its last two games—both losses.
Utah’s winning streak began with a 103-101 home win over the Cavaliers on Nov. 7, as Deron Williams drove the length of the floor for the game-winning layup with 1.3 seconds to play.
Williams finished with 15 points and 12 assists in that victory, and is averaging 15.4 points and 9.6 assists during the win streak.
Boozer, who played his first two seasons with Cleveland, had 23 points and 12 rebounds against the Cavs last week. He has averaged 18.0 points and 14.0 boards in three career games against his former team.
Cleveland (4-5) is coming off a 117-116 overtime loss to Orlando on Wednesday despite James finishing with 39 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds.
James, whose suspect free-throw shooting has been the only major blemish in his game as a pro, made three straight foul shots with 2.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 108 and send the game to overtime.
With less than six seconds left in the extra period, James drove to the lane to try and draw a foul, but instead a jump ball was called.
“I went into the lane and I got grabbed,” James said. “It didn’t go our way, but we will regroup and get ready for Friday.”
It was James’ best game since finishing with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists in last week’s loss to the Jazz. The three-time All-Star is averaging 32.7 points, 9.7 boards and 10.3 assists in Cleveland’s last three losses, compared to 24.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists in its last three wins.
“For me, as a leader, you have to win basketball games,” said James, who is averaging 29.0 points in nine career games against Utah. “It doesn’t matter what I do as an individual if we don’t win. That is all that matters to me.”
The Cavs have not lost three straight since Jan. 16-19, and have not been two games below .500 since they were 1-3 at the start of the 2004-05 season.
James seems to have found his groove at Quicken Loans Arena following a rough home opener. After scoring 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting in Cleveland’s 92-74 home loss to Dallas on Oct. 31, James has scored 84 points on 28-of-55 shooting (50.9 percent) in his last two home games.
The Cavs have won their last three home games over the Jazz, and are 11-4 against them in Cleveland since 1991-92.