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Wrap-Up -- If anyone in Cleveland was curious about what Dallas rookie Luka Doncic is like in the flesh – now they know.
The Mavericks’ prized international import put on a show before intermission, notching 28 of his 35 points in the first half as the Wine & Gold saw their win streak snapped at two – dropping a 111-98 decision on Saturday night at The Q.
The Cavaliers scored 31 points in the first period, but Doncic helped Dallas ring up 40. Cleveland cooled off considerably from there, combining for just 43 points in the second stanza.
Coming off a blockbuster deal that sent three rotational players – DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and Dennis Smith Jr. – to New York in exchange for an injured Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks were going with a threadbare lineup on Saturday night. But their impressive rookie was enough to help seal the deal.
On the night, the Slovenian teenager led both squads with 35 points on 13-for-25 shooting, including 4-of-11 from long-range, leading Dallas with 11 boards and six assists in the win.
It didn’t help matters that Cleveland lost its hottest player before halftime, with Cedi Osman suffering a right ankle injury that sidelined him for the second half. Osman – who had averaged 24.3 points per over his last four games – finished with 10 points in just 14 minutes of work going 5-of-9 from the floor to go with three assists and a pair of boards.
The Cavaliers trailed early in Saturday’s matchup, but came back to tie up the affair before half and were toe-to-toe with Dallas through the first half of the third period. But the Mavericks went on a quick run to end the quarter to keep Cleveland at bay throughout the fourth.
Clarkson tallies his league-leading 46th double-figure scoring effort off the bench.
Jordan Clarkson led the Cavaliers in scoring for the 23rd time this season – finishing with 19 points on 7-for-16 shooting.
Collin Sexton – who’s tallied only one fewer double-digit performance than Doncic among all rookies – followed up with 13 points despite struggling from the floor, going 4-for-17 to go with three boards and a pair of assists.
David Nwaba returned after an 18-game layoff with a sprained ankle to finish with 12 points off the bench, going 5-of-6 from the floor, adding four boards and a steal.
In terms of Cavaliers returning from injury, Larry Nance Jr. – in his fourth game back from a knee injury – doubled-up for the second straight occasion, notching 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds in 28 minutes of action.
Alec Burks rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures, netting 11 points, eight boards and a team-high five assists in the loss.
Dallas drilled 16 triples on the night to offset the Cavaliers’ advantage from the stripe, attempting 33 free throws to 19 for the Mavs. Cleveland also only committed six miscues in the loss.
Turning Point -- The first two-and-a-half quarters of Saturday’s matchup featured eight lead-changes and six ties, including the moment both teams were knotted at 73-apiece with 5:09 to play in the third quarter.
But Devin Harris drilled a three-pointer on the Mavericks’ next possession – keying a 13-3 run that gave Dallas its second double-digit lead of the night.
The Cavaliers trailed by just six after three quarters, but Dallas used a mini-surge to open up a 13-point edge midway through the period. The Wine & Gold wouldn’t get the game back to within single digits the rest of the way.
By the Numbers – 12.0, 11.5, .714 … Larry Nance Jr.’s scoring and rebounding averages – plus shooting percentage – over his last two outings, going 10-of-14 from the floor over that span.
Quotable – Larry Nance Jr., on the return of David Nwaba to the rotation …
”Having another tough individual one-on-one defender is huge, because when we get broken down off the dribble, the defense collapses and that’s when they get threes. So having another guy that can take the challenge and man up and guard his man side-to-side and one-on-one is going to end up being big time for us.”
Up Next -- The Wine & Gold wrap up their three-game homestand on Tuesday night when they welcome the Celtics to The Q for the final meeting of the season. The Cavaliers then make their final trip before the All-Star Break – a weekend back-to-back starting with a Friday night meeting with the Wizards in D.C. followed by their final visit to Indiana this year on Saturday. Cleveland then closes out the 2018-19’s unofficial first half with a pair on the corner of Huron and Ontario – with the Knicks rolling into town next Monday evening followed by a visit from the Nets two nights later.