Published January 13, 2015
The Cleveland Cavaliers recently welcomed back All-Star Kyrie Irving, but they take a two-game losing streak into Wednesday's home game against the Utah Jazz.
Irving returned from a three-game absence due to a knee injury on Monday night when the Cavs hosted the New York Knicks. Cleveland shot a preposterous 68.4 percent in the first half, but the Knicks, who played without All-Star Carmelo Anthony because of a knee injury in the second quarter, clawed back to win 102-97.
"Going into the fourth quarter, our lack of intensity cost us," said Irving. "Once we lose our, all of us forgot what got us the lead. They got into a groove."
Marreese Speights led the Cavs with 23 points on 10-for-14 shooting. Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson and C.J. Miles scored in double figures and Irving netted 22 points on 9-for-22 shooting in 36 minutes.
"It felt alright, little sore right now, I knew that going in," Irving said after the game on Monday. "Tomorrow do the necessary things I need to do."
Dion Waiters and Daniel Gibson will miss the Jazz game due to illness. Tyler Zeller is listed as probable.
The Cavs are 4-3 since the All-Star break and Wednesday's game will be the third in a four-game homestand. They fell at home to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, then lost to the Knicks on Monday.
The Jazz have lost four of their last five and got their four-game road trip off to a disappointing start with a 109-108 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
Brandon Jennings of the Bucks sent the game into overtime, then Milwaukee took a three-point lead with 14.7 seconds remaining. Paul Millsap had a layup blocked, then Randy Foye missed a 3-pointer before Enes Kanter settled for a layup to get within one.
"We had an opportunity to win the game," Millsap said. "You can't make excuses. We have to find a way to win."
With starting center Al Jefferson out of the lineup, the big men for Utah were outstanding. Derrick Favors started in Jefferson's place and had 23 points and 15 rebounds. Millsap scored 22 and pulled down 14 board and Kanter chipped in 18 to go with 10 rebounds.
The Jazz bench outplayed the starters for the most part. Marvin Williams, Foye and Earl Watson tallied zero points on 0-for-15 shooting, while Kanter, Alec Burks, DeMarre Carroll and Gordon Hayward all scored double figures in a reserve role.
All totaled, the four bench players scored 63 points to the 25 from Millsap and Favors. All four non-starters played over 30 minutes in the overtime contest.
The Jazz have won six straight in this series with Cleveland, including a 109-98 win in Utah this season. Utah has won two in a row in Cleveland.