Cavaliers Beat the Jazz 124-116: Game Recap 12/20/23

December 20, 2023

Andy Billman

Post-Game Recap

3 Key Factors Around the Victory

1 – Marvelous Merril

On a night when the Cavs did not have Donovan Mitchell, who was out with an illness, Sam Merrill stepped up in a big way with a team-high 27 points with 8 for 14 from beyond the arc.

2 – Bench

The Cavs bench was the significant difference in the game as the Cleveland bench outscored the Utah bench 75 to 32. 

3 РThree Pointers 

Back-to-back games for the Cavs with hot shooting from deep as Cleveland shot 45.1% making 23 for 51, ten more threes compared to the Jazz.

Game Summary

Sam Merrill achieved new career highs by scoring 27 points and hitting eight 3-pointers, while Caris LeVert contributed 23 points as the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers secured a 124-116 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

During a decisive 17-2 run to open the fourth quarter, Merrill drained three 3-pointers, propelling Cleveland to its largest lead at 109-95.

The fourth-year pro from Utah State had recently set personal bests with 19 points and five 3-pointers in a 135-130 overtime win against Houston on Monday.

Donovan Mitchell, the Cavaliers’ shooting guard, sat out the game against his former team due to illness. Mitchell, a four-time All-Star averaging 27.7 points, spent his initial five seasons with Utah before being traded on September 1, 2022.

Cleveland faced additional setbacks as power forward Evan Mobley (left knee surgery) and point guard Darius Garland (broken jaw) were absent, with their return not expected until February.

Max Strus contributed 18 points with six 3-pointers, and Jarrett Allen added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Cavaliers. The team set a franchise record with 23 3-pointers on 51 attempts, securing a 3-0 record on a four-game homestand and winning nine of the last 12 home games.

Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 26 points and 10 rebounds, Collin Sexton scored 20 points, and Talen Horton-Tucker had 19 points while tying his career high with 11 assists. The Jazz, currently 2-13 on the road, will not return home until December 30 against Miami.

Markkanen, Sexton, and Ochai Agbaji were acquired by the Jazz in exchange for Mitchell, along with three first-round draft picks and multiple second-round selections.

Merrill’s outstanding performance included burying five 3-pointers and scoring 17 points in the first half, helping Cleveland secure a 62-56 lead at halftime. He concluded the game with an impressive 9-of-16 shooting from the field, including 8-of-14 beyond the arc, and 1-of-2 from the foul line in a career-best 30 minutes.

Up Next

Host New Orleans on Thursday night.

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