Undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers blown out by Utah Jazz, 114-75, in road trip finale


SALT LAKE CITY -- The Cleveland Cavaliers have 17 wins, sit 13th (out of 15 teams) in the Eastern Conference and are in Year 3 of a rebuild. The Utah Jazz have the league’s best record and championship aspirations.

Monday night’s game was over when Cleveland’s charter flight touched down in Utah.

In a complete mismatch, the undermanned Cavs were blown out by the surging Jazz in Monday night’s road trip finale, 114-75.

Cleveland has lost three straight after opening the four-game trek with a win against the Chicago Bulls. Mixed in were a pair of clunkers and a heartbreaking, last-second loss. Utah has ripped off six straight, winning those games by a combined 116 points.

As if Monday wasn’t going to be challenging enough, Larry Nance Jr. woke up feeling sick Monday morning and couldn’t participate in shootaround. Nance was ruled out with an illness not related to COVID-19. Jarrett Allen also missed the final two games of the roadie because of a concussion suffered in the loss against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. Without Nance -- the undersized emergency center -- and Allen, the Cavs were forced to start Isaiah Hartenstein in his team debut. Not ideal against All-Star center Rudy Gobert. Welcome to Cleveland.

Hartenstein, acquired from Denver on Thursday as part of the JaVale McGee trade, has yet to practice. He met his new teammates in Sacramento following a lengthy cross-country flight hours before Saturday’s game. He joked earlier in the day about not having enough undergarments since he was sent to Cleveland for his physical and paperwork in the middle of a Nuggets road trip. Hartenstein doesn’t know anyone, having just one shootaround to learn terminology and try to build some semblance of chemistry.

Yet, there he was in the starting lineup, the 22nd different starting group the injury-plagued Cavaliers have been forced to use this season. And there he was at the heart of Cleveland’s offensive attack.

That helps show what the Cavs were up against Monday. Beyond, of course, the NBA’s best.

The newbie 7-footer, who will be Allen’s primary backup over the final weeks, scored five points to go with a team-best 14 rebounds and seven assists in 26 minutes. The Cavs didn’t plan on using him that much. They wanted to integrate him slowly. Plans change. They had no other choice.

It looked ominous early as Hartenstein strolled to the bench 38 seconds into his debut after picking up a pair of fouls. But he rebounded and received the kind of playing time that wasn’t available with the playoff-contending Nuggets.

Collin Sexton scored a team-best 20 points. Darius Garland chipped in with 18.

The Jazz used a balanced attack led by Donovan Mitchell, who scored 19 points in 25 minutes, resting for a majority of the second half. Mike Conley and Gobert added 18 points apiece.

Monday was one of those nights. There have been many of them. There was never a path to Cleveland competing. Not against this team. Not in its current state.

Welcome back

Taurean Prince returned from a 10-game absence because of a sprained shoulder. Coming off the bench, Prince scored five points on 2-of-9 from the field in 18 minutes.

Up next

The Cavs will return home and have a few days off before taking on the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers blown out by Utah Jazz, 114-75, in road trip finale

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