Mike Conley’s unexpected jump ball win in the final seconds of Friday night’s game saved the Utah Jazz from a home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
A night later, Conley’s teammates jumped in to help the Jazz beat the Grizzlies in his absence, when the 33-year-old guard got the night off, as he has at times since experiencing recurring hamstring issues earlier this season.
Monday night, the Jazz will be looking for a continuation of the wide range of contributions when they host the Cavs in Salt Lake City. In their last outing, All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell had 35 points on 12-of-17 shooting and seven assists in Utah’s 126-110 victory over Memphis.
He took over point guard duties for his fellow All-Star on Conley’s night off.
“The biggest thing was being aggressive,” Mitchell said. “With a man down, everyone has got to raise their level. I just did it through scoring.”
Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson snapped out of a mini-funk for 28 points in 29 minutes of action, Rudy Gobert contributed 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Joe Ingles threw in 15 points and dished out seven assists as Utah won for the 19th time in a row at home and for the fifth consecutive game overall.
It all began with Mitchell, who got off to a quick start with five early baskets and then helped Utah lead by as many as 30 points.
“He was just getting to his spots,” Jazz forward Royce O’Neale said. “You know Donovan can get hot really quick. You give him the ball and let him keep going.”
Cleveland is coming into this one on a low note after losing at the buzzer in Sacramento on Saturday.
Collin Sexton made a layup with 1.6 seconds remaining, seemingly helping the Cavs beat the Kings. But that 98-97 lead wasn’t safe for long, as Harrison Barnes connected on a 3-point dagger at the buzzer to lift Sacramento to the 100-98 decision.
“Fought to the end, fought to the wire,” Sexton said. “That was a tough shot (by Barnes) and we have to live with those.”
Sexton finished with 26 points, while Darius Garland added 18 for a Cleveland squad that led for most of the night.
Cleveland played without a true center after Jarrett Allen suffered a slight concussion in Friday’s game against the Lakers, leading the Cavs to move Larry Nance Jr. from forward to center. This came not long after Cleveland agreed to a buyout with Andre Drummond.
JaVale McGee had been traded away to Denver, and incoming big man Isaiah Hartenstein was not yet available.
The last time these teams faced each other was back on Jan. 12, when Utah won 117-87 at Cleveland.
–Field Level Media