Cavaliers lose on LeBron James’ birthday, 104-101 to Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — LeBron James’ birthday and this three-game Cavs’ road trip ended with a dud.

The Utah Jazz beat Cleveland 104-101 on Saturday, James’ 33rd birthday, making the Cavs an ugly 0-for-3 on the trip. They’ve lost four out of five, and the best that can be said for this trip was, hey, at least they tasted some good wine in Napa.

James, who entered play averaging 33.5 points in six previous birthday games, finished with 29 points, eight rebounds, six assists and six turnovers. He missed on a drive with 29 seconds left that could’ve cut Cleveland’s deficit to one. Three of his turnovers came in the fourth quarter.

The Cavs are now 0-4 here since James returned to the Cavs.

"I need a win here. I suck here," James said before the game. "I personally don’t suck. But my team sucks when we come here. We cannot win a game."

The trend continued.

Rookie Donovan Mitchell scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter. Derrick Favors added 19 points for the Jazz, Ricky Rubio was great with 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Thabo Sefolosha contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Kevin Love scored 20 points but shot 6-of-16. His 3-pointer with 1:35 left made it 98-97 Jazz, but Dwyane Wade missed a 3 with 52 seconds that would’ve given the Cavs the lead. Mitchell responded with a layup at the other end.

Jeff Green scored 22 off the bench, Tristan Thompson contributed 11 points and five rebounds and Wade added nine points. Kyle Korver didn’t score in 18 minutes and was 0-for-5 shooting. Jose Calderon, playing opposite Rubio, didn’t score either.

James’ teams had lost their last six against the Jazz and were 2-9 in his last 11 games against Utah. And yet his 29.4 points per game over his career against Utah (before Saturday’s game) was his second-highest scoring average against any team.

The Jazz had lost three straight entering play Saturday.

James opened the game as though he likes playing on his birthday (he already said he did), scoring 12 on 5-of-7 shooting while the Cavs jumped to a 32-22 lead. He closed the half with a ridiculous turnaround, fadeaway jumper at the buzzer for a 53-48 advantage.

And then, the Jazz leaned over and blew out all the candles on James’ cake. Utah outscored the Cavs 23-3 over the first 7:47 of the third quarter. The Jazz led by as many as 15 and was ahead 76-69 at the end of the period.

James didn’t score in the third, but he did get a technical. Both he and Sefolosha were slapped with them for jawing at each other. The Cavs shot 4-of-19 in the quarter and were 1-of-13 at one point.

James went over 8,000 rebounds for his career.

NEXT: The Cavs return home (for one game) to play the Portland Trail Blazers at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

LeBron James took exception to a Thabo Sefolosha foul during Saturday’s game against the Utah Jazz.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James got off to a strong start against Utah on Saturday.

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