By MATTHEW COLES Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 19 points and Rudy Gobert added 18 points and 17 rebounds to power the Utah Jazz to their sixth straight win, a 114-75 victory over Cleveland on Monday night.
“Coach Quin (Snyder) is pushing us every timeout, pushing us in every halftime of games like this to continue to try to be perfect, to try to be great. In order to do that, you have to be consistent and … tonight we were able to accomplish that for four quarters,” Mike Conley said.
Conley contributed 18 points for the Jazz, who have won 20 straight at home after dropping their first two home games of the season.
“It’s a special feeling, honestly, to be able to come into our building here at Vivint (Arena) and know we have an advantage,” Conley said.
Since the All-Star game, Mitchell has averaged 29.2 points on 50% shooting and 46% from 3-point range. The Jazz only needed Mitchell for 25 minutes in the blowout.
“I think my film work is the biggest reason. When you can’t always get the physical reps in a shortened season and you need to rest your body, it’s the mental things of understanding how teams are going to guard you, what’s going to be open and manipulating the situations to get anything you want,” Mitchell said.
Gobert also has been on a hot streak, averaging nearly 17 points and more than 14 rebounds since the mid-season break. Against the Cavs, he had four blocked shots and affected several others as Cleveland shot just 35% from the field.
“I think I’m getting more and more comfortable offensively, and my teammates are doing a great job looking for me even more. It’s on me to be a better playmaker and then finish around the rim for my team,” Gobert said.
Collin Sexton scored 20 points and Darius Garland had 18 for the Cavs, who lost their last three of a four-game road stretch.
“That’s where we want to be. We want to be a team like them,” Sexton said about the Jazz.
Jordan’s Clarkson’s 3-pointer — his 72nd consecutive game with at least one from long distance — sparked a 17-0 run to end the third quarter, giving the Jazz a 90-52 lead entering the final period.
Without a Cavs shot-blocking threat, the Jazz were feasting on straight-line drives into the lane that led to layups or open 3-point jumpers.
After the Cavaliers missed their first 12 shots of the second quarter, the Jazz took a 44-20 lead and Cleveland never got much closer the rest of the way.
“Tonight was probably one of our best game in terms of consistency defensively. Just about every minute on the court, for everyone that came in, they were locked in defensively,” Gobert said.
The margin underlines the fact that the Jazz are not only winning, but winning big this season on their way to the league’s best record (35-11). The win over the Cavs marks the 25th game that Utah has led by 20 or more, and the fifth straight. It was the eighth wire-to-wire win for the Jazz and the largest margin of the season.
“Sometimes when you get a lead, teams have a tendency to stop sharing the ball as much. That’s something we did a good job of — we kept playing the right way,” Snyder said.
Utah led 53-34 at half — limiting the Cavs to less than 30% shooting and an opponent’s lowest scoring first half of the season.
With few threats in the half-court against the stingy Jazz defense, the Cavs hoped to get out and run. But they only scored five points in transition in the game.
In the third quarter, Cleveland found its best offense was putting Isaiah Hartenstein out near the 3-point line as a facilitator. The big man drew Gobert away from the basket and found cutters heading for the basket.
“The second half, where we started playing together, people started cutting. Made my life easier finding them. I think that’s how we have to play, especially with how young we are,” said Hartenstein, who had a career-high seven assists to go along with his season-high 14 rebounds.
Cleveland’s 74 points nearly matched the Los Angeles Clippers for the lowest output of the season. The Clippers lost 124-73 to Dallas on Dec. 27, 2020.
BASKETBALL’S ALWAYS ON
Mitchell said that basketball is always on screens at home or on the road, even when he’s doing something else like playing video games.
“Any type of game, I’m looking to check habits and find ways to better myself and be the best player I can be,” Mitchell said.
Conley, a veteran in his 14th season, has never seen any teammate watch so much basketball.
“He’s unbelievable. He’s a student of the game,” Conley said. “He’s watching every game that’s on, so he’s always learning and he’s just a fan … He’s applying the things he’s learning and he’s working for it.”
Cavaliers: Larry Nance Jr. sat out with a non-COVID illness, joining Jarrett Allen (concussion), Matthew Dellavedova (appendectomy), and Kevin Love (calf). … Hartenstein, who came from Denver in the JeVale McGee trade, picked up two fouls in the opening 38 seconds in his first start of the year. … Cleveland used its 22nd different starting lineup and this one featured five players under 25 years of age.
Jazz: Utah is 15-1 when Georges Niang makes at least two 3s this season. He had three against Cleveland. … Up 63-38, the Jazz successfully challenged a foul call on Mitchell stripping Sexton. … The Jazz have a 27-0 record when tallying spurts of 10 or more consecutive points in a game.
Cavaliers: Host the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
Jazz: Visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
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