Cavs couldn’t handle all that Jazz.
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – LeBron James scored a game-high 29 points but it was not enough to prevent the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers sliding to a 100-92 defeat at the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.
James grabbed six rebounds and five assists while team-mate Kyrie Irving scored 20 points on a frustrating night for the Cavs.
The Cavaliers were undone by a balanced Utah Jazz scoring display which saw no fewer than six players make double figures.
Gordon Hayward led the way for the home team with 28 points and nine rebounds while Rodney Hood weighed in with a valuable 18 points.
Rudy Gobert clinched his 27th double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds to propel Utah to their third consecutive home game.
The victory helped Utah improve to 24-16, while Eastern Conference leaders Cleveland fell to 28-9 as their three-game winning streak on the road came to a halt.
A fast-moving start saw both teams scoring at will, with 17 fast break points in the opening quarter and a further 24 points in the paint.
Cleveland opened an early 12-6 lead after back-to-back baskets from Irving but Utah quickly responded to take the lead with a pair from Hayward.
Utah gradually pulled away and three-pointers from George Hill and Rodney Hood contributed to a 10-0 points run which gave Utah a 56-41 lead at halftime.
James then did his best to haul Cleveland back into the contest, draining a series of shots in the third quarter to help put the Cavs 60-58 ahead.
However Hayward then wrested back the initiative for the Jazz to inspire a 16-0 run that put Utah 74-60 ahead late in the third.
Meanwhile, James Harden bagged his 11th triple double of the season to lead the Houston Rockets to a 121-114 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Harden, one of several players excelling in a high-scoring season across the league, finished with 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists as Houston improved to 31-9.
The Rockets talisman also came to Houston’s rescue after Charlotte staged a dramatic fourth quarter fightback to take a shock lead.
Houston appeared to be cruising to victory after Corey Brewer’s three-pointer gave them a 108-90 lead with around eight minutes left.
But Charlotte responded with a 21-2 rally which featured four consecutive three-pointers as the Hornets edged into a 111-110 advantage with just over two minutes to go.
Harden steadied the ship however with an assist for Ryan Anderson’s three-pointer before adding two layups to settle Houston’s nerves.
Brewer finished with 15 points from the bench while forward Trevor Ariza scored 16 points. Montrezl Harrell posted 14 points with Anderson 13.
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