SALT LAKE CITY - The Cleveland Cavaliers are doing just fine without Carlos Boozer.
The Cavaliers faced their former teammate Saturday night and reminded him of what he left behind when he signed with Utah, beating the Jazz 84-71 after falling behind by 19.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 27 points, including 10 in the final period as Cleveland outscored Utah 31-14.
"We made stops on defense and we started making shots," James said. "One thing we didn't do in the first half was make shots."
Defensively, Cleveland held Boozer, a Juneau-Douglas High School graduate, to just three points in the second half after switching to a zone defense and shutting down the inside. Although there was no obvious animosity toward Boozer, Saturday's game had to sit well with fans back in Cleveland who were angered when the budding forward took Utah's $68 million offer.
It sparked a bitter feud with the Cleveland front office and Boozer is guaranteed to hear plenty when the Jazz visit the Cavs in March.
"Everybody was out there having a good time. We just wish we had come out to win," said Boozer, who finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds. "The biggest thing is that I just wanted to win the game and it's tough for us to lose this one."
Utah never trailed through three quarters, then could do nothing to stop James and Jeff McInnis, who scored 24 points and helped James start a 13-0 run that put the game away. Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 11 and Anderson Varejao pulled down 14 rebounds for the Cavs, who had just 11 turnovers and forced 19.
Matt Harpring had 10 rebounds and nine points for the Jazz, and Gordan Giricek and Mehmet Okur also scored 12 for Utah, tying Boozer for the team high.
The Jazz didn't help themselves with 33 fouls, leading to 27 points off free throws by Cleveland. The Cavs went to the free-throw line often enough that it didn't matter they were only 27-for-43 there.
"We ended up committing enough fouls for two or three games and they were basically soft fouls," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "If you're going to commit soft fouls and play soft, you're going to get more scared and put yourself in a tough situation."
Cleveland won in Utah two years in a row for the first time since the Jazz moved to Salt Lake City in 1979. The Cavs won here a year ago 106-96 in overtime even after James left in the final seconds of regulation with a twisted ankle.
Boozer came through for the Cavs with 10 of his 32 points in the OT and had 18 rebounds for Cleveland. He looked as if he was headed for another big night Saturday against the Cavs until they clamped down defensively in the second half.
"He really played well when we were man-to-man," Cavs coach Paul Silas said. "When we zoned, they couldn't get the ball in to him inside as much and I thought that helped us."
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