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News » Jazz-Cavaliers Preview 2009-11-14

Jazz-Cavaliers Preview 2009-11-14

Jazz-Cavaliers Preview 2009-11-14Playing without Deron Williams, the Utah Jazz received a lift from two rookies in their last game. Duplicating that success against the Cleveland Cavaliers might be more difficult.

The Jazz look to win back-to-back games for the first time this season when they visit the Cavaliers on Saturday, hoping to get Williams back in the lineup.

Before Friday's 112-90 win over Philadelphia, Utah (4-5) announced that Williams had left the team to be with his family for personal reasons. The point guard, who is averaging 20.4 points and 9.9 assists, issued a statement which read in part, "We (he and his wife) both appreciate the support of the fans, the Jazz organization and my teammates. I will return to the court as soon as possible."

Williams' departure left the Jazz even more short-handed. The team has struggled to be consistent this season in part due to so many injuries. Besides Williams, Utah on Friday was missing guards Ronnie Price (sprained left big toe) and Kyle Korver (left knee surgery) as well as forwards Matt Harpring (ankle/knee) and C.J. Miles (left thumb surgery).

Williams said the Jazz were "soft" in a 105-86 loss to Boston on Wednesday, but the team put together one of its better performances Friday, reaching 100 points for the first time in four games. Seven players finished in double figures, including rookies Eric Maynor and Wesley Matthews, who were making their first starts.

"They should be happy," coach Jerry Sloan said. "I don't think a lot of people expected them to win."

Matthews scored 16 points while Maynor added 13 and a team-high 11 assists. Maynor had played only 31 total minutes this season while Matthews has been used in a limited role as Andrei Kirilenko's backup. Kirilenko came off the bench Friday with 13 points and six rebounds.

"With Deron out, we knew we had to step it up," said Carlos Boozer, who scored 24 points. "You've really got to tip your hat to the rookies."

The Jazz, who said Williams could be back in the lineup Saturday, haven't won in Cleveland since 2004, losing five straight there. Utah also has only one win against a team that currently has a record above .500.

While having Williams back would help, he's struggled in his career at Quicken Loans Arena, averaging 11.0 points in three games. He missed his team's visit there last season because of a left ankle sprain.

Cleveland (6-3) returns home after sweeping a three-game road trip, which closed with a 111-104 victory at Miami on Thursday. LeBron James scored 34 points, including Cleveland's final eight points over the last 2:42.

James is averaging 34.3 points over his last three games.

"He closed the game with a killer instinct in the right way on both ends of the floor," coach Mike Brown said. "Man, for me that was so fun to watch. It's indescribable almost. He willed the end of the game to go the way it did. It was flat-out beautiful, like Picasso."

It was the highest-scoring game of the season for the Cavaliers, who have picked things up offensively after averaging 93.5 points in their first four games. They are averaging 104.3 points in the last three contests while shooting 52.0 percent from 3-point range.

Cleveland has won 10 of 13 against Utah, including the last three in which James has averaged 37.0 points.

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Added: November 14, 2009


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