SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz climbed back into the Western Conference playoff picture without even playing for four days.
When they returned to action against lowly Cleveland on Saturday, they made sure they didn’t give up any ground with a 109-98 victory.
“We talked about having fresh legs and we wanted to come out and demonstrate that,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “I thought the guys did a good job of pushing the ball down the floor.”
The Jazz held a 21-5 edge on the fast break.
And with Randy Foye hitting three 3-pointers in Utah’s 31-point third quarter, the Cavs didn’t have a chance.
Utah led by 16 after three and by as many as 18.
Foye led Utah with 20 points, including four 3s, as the Jazz improved to 22-19 at the midway point.
The Jazz have won five of their last six, and six straight over the Cavs (10-32).
Utah also plays 13 of its next 18 at home, where the Jazz are 13-4.
Derrick Favors added a season-high 19 points, opening 7 of 7, and Enes Kanter had 14 on 7-of-8 shooting as Utah’s bench accounted for 51 points.
“You have to give them credit, their big guys are good,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said.
“Their second unit was great,” Scott added. “It was offensive rebounds after offensive rebounds. Even when we got stops, it seemed like they get another opportunity.”
Dion Waiters led the Cavs with 23 points off the bench.
Tristan Thompson’s three-point play with 2:39 remaining got Cleveland within 104-94. But the Jazz got three chances on their next possession, with Gordon Hayward converting on a short jumper. Kanter then followed with another basket to bump Utah’s lead back to 14.
Kyrie Irving added 18 points with nine assists for Cleveland, but started 1 of 7 from the field before finishing 7 of 20.
Afterward, he expressed frustration.
“When our guys want to get it going, we just don’t,” he said. “We talk about it. Then teams make shots and we just don’t respond.”
“Coming out in the third and fourth quarter, we just get soft,” he added, saying he was trying to make plays for his teammates.
Waiters said the Cavs “let this one slip away” in the third quarter.
“That’s where we’ve had trouble all year is in the third quarter. We just got to stay the course,” he said. “Come out and be aggressive and do the same thing we did in the first half in the third and fourth quarter.”
Former Jazz swingman C.J. Miles added 12 points in his return to Salt Lake City, but shot 4 of 11, including 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
“It was good to see everybody,” said Miles, who still has a home in the area and received a warm reception with a few boos mixed in. “It definitely brought back some memories. I wish we could have come out with the victory.”
He said the Cavs got a little “stagnant” in the third quarter.
“We depend too much on trying to play one-on-one, which makes the game harder on ourselves.”
The Cavs shot just 41 percent and were outscored 46-36 in the paint and dominated on the break.
Plenty of credit goes to veteran Jazz point guards Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson, sharing time in place of injured Mo Williams. They pushed the pace and finished with a combined 13 assists.
Tinsley started a 9-0 third-quarter run with a layup and Al Jefferson (14 points, 11 rebounds), capped it with a powerful dunk after faking out Tyler Zeller.
Irving’s 3-pointer tied it at 43 with 3:31 left in the half.
But the second quarter belong to DeMarre Carroll, who had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, with two rebounds and a steal in eight minutes to give Utah a five-point lead heading into halftime.
“They are an aggressive basketball team,” Scott said. “I thought the first half we matched that and they second half we were overmatched.”
NOTES: The loudest cheer came in the first quarter when former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was shown on the big screen. . Waiters had the highlight reel dunk over Favors with 10:10 left in the half. Waiters was 3 of 3 for eight points in the second. … Hayward started 0 of 5 for Utah and finished with five points. .This is the 11th straight game the Jazz have dished out 20-plus assists. . The Cavs are 1-20 in games when trailing at halftime and 0-13 when shooting a lower field goal percentage.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.