Kyrie Irving had an actual root canal Thursday.
A day later, it only felt like he was giving one to the Jazz.
Irving, the third-year Cleveland point guard, erupted for 17 points in the third quarter, as the Cavaliers blasted Utah in the second half to pull away with a 113-102 win at EnergySolutions Arena.
"He got his rhythm and he’s that kind of player," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said after his team had fallen to 12-26 on the year. "He just decided to take it upon himself to pick it up there and we didn’t match his intensity."
Then again, maybe the pain Utah felt Friday was more like a hip flexor strain — the injury that kept leading scorer Gordon Hayward out of the lineup for the first time this season.
Hayward was instrumental in the Jazz’s victory Tuesday night over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He scored a career-high 37 points, including the team’s final 17 of the game to seal the win. But after struggling through shootaround Friday morning, Hayward was held out against the Cavs, showing his value in another way.
"We need all of our pieces and Gordon is a big part of what we’re doing," Corbin said of the fourth-year swingman. "Him being out, we knew we had to step up, not just one guy, the team had to step up and rally around each other."
In the first half, the Jazz did a good job of spreading Hayward’s scoring duties around. Forward Richard Jefferson had 11 points, Enes Kanter had 10, and Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Trey Burke each had 7, as Utah took a 49-46 lead in to the locker room.
But the Jazz missed more than just Hayward’s scoring — especially in the second half Friday.
"He brings a lot of leadership and he takes a lot of responsibility when the game’s like that," said Kanter, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, his fourth straight game in double figures.
The Cavs opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run, forcing a quick timeout by Corbin to steady his team.
Midway through the period, Utah trailed 65-62. That’s when Burke headed to the bench with his fourth foul. Then the Cavs really got rolling.
Dion Waiters hit from 3, Irving sank back-to-back triples, and Jarrett Jack added the exclamation, hitting from behind the arc as the buzzer sounded.
"I mean, he’s an All-Star," Burks, who had 16 points and five boards in the start, said of Irving. "He got it going. What more can you say?"
"His team feeds off him," said the rookie Burke. "Once he hit a couple threes, got to the line a couple times, that’s when they went on their run."
Cleveland scored a sesaon-high 39 points in the third and outscored the Jazz 19-8 with Burke on the bench to close out the quarter.
Cleveland pushed the lead as high as 20 in the fourth. Former Jazz guard C.J. Miles had his best game in three tries against his old team, scoring 17 points in 23 minutes. Cleveland’s newest acquisition, forward Luol Deng, made his first appearance of the Cavs after being traded from Chicago earlier in the week. He finished with 10 points.
With the win, the Cavs improved to 13-23 on the year.
For the Jazz, Burke had 17 points and six assists and Jefferson finished with a team-high 18 points.
An ultrasound performed Friday confirmed Hayward had a muscle strain in his left hip. With no game until Monday, the Jazz will rest their co-captain. He is being called a game-time decision against Denver.
"Anytime you have one of your guys out, especially a guy who’s as important as Gordon has been, we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing to give him time to recover," Corbin said. "He’ll have two days and we’ll see what’s going on Monday."
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