Cleveland • Sitting on the verge of the first triple-double of his career, Kyrie Irving needed a little help.
If he had needed points, he could have called his own number. But Irving already had 21. If he had needed an assist, he could have told his teammates to wait for his pass and fire at will. But the All-Star point guard already had a career-high 12 dimes.
What Irving needed Friday night at the Quicken Loans Arena, was a rebound — and for that he needed some assistance.
Fortunately enough for him, the Utah Jazz were in town.
The Jazz opened their longest trip of the season with a dud, a 99-79 blowout loss to the Cavaliers, in which they hit on just 35 percent of their field goal attempts.
And that meant there were boards to go around.
“They got a lot of opportunities because of the way we shot the ball tonight,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said after Cleveland had out-rebounded his team 56-31.
Irving’s last rebound of the game came with 4:12 left in the fourth quarter, when a Marvin Williams 3-pointer bounced off the rim and into Irving’s hands. It was the first triple-double of his career and the first for the Cavaliers since LeBron James did it back in March 2010.
“He’s an All-Star,” said Jazz forward Richard Jefferson, whose 13 points made him one of three Utah to reach double figures. “The numbers are always going to be there for Kyrie. I think the next step and the next growth is obviously the team play. How many wins can his play get for them?”
Against Utah this year, the number is 2.
On Jan. 10 in Salt Lake City, Irving went off for 17 third-quarter points to give the Cavs a win over the Jazz. On Friday, Irving sparked another third-quarter push, erasing the Jazz’s halftime lead and helping Cleveland win its 24th game of the year. Cleveland has won seven of its last 10 games and is now 31/2 games out of the eighth spot in the West, behind the struggling Atlanta Hawks.
The Jazz dropped to 21-37 on the season.
In the early going, however, things didn’t look so bleak for the Jazz. After a Spencer Hawes bucket to open the game, Utah went on a 10-2 run and at one point led by as many as nine. Jazz guard Gordon Hayward hit on his first three attempts from the behind the arc, and Utah held a two-point lead at halftime.
But the Cavs outscored the Jazz 30-19 in the third period — and did it again in the fourth.
“They kind of just took off on us,” Hayward said, “and it’s hard on the road when you get down like that to come back.”
Hayward, who was an assist shy of a triple-double Wednesday, finished Friday’s game with 18 points, seven boards, seven assists and two steals.
Alec Burks scored 11 points off the bench for the Jazz.
For Cleveland, Hawes finished with 13 points and a season-high 16 rebounds. Forward Tristan Thompson added 18 and 14.
The Jazz made as many shots inside the arc (14) as they did outside. Said Jefferson,
“They did a very good job of double-teaming Derrick [Favors] and Enes [Kanter], which puts them in rotations that give us open 3s, but it also makes our 2s a lot more difficult when those guys are being hounded with a couple different players. You have to tip your hat to them. It was a good game plan and we struggled.”