*** Before departing on a four-game trip, the Cavaliers cleaned up at home – running out to a big first-half lead and barely looking back after intermission to hold off the hot Magic, 121-111, on Wednesday night in Cleveland. The Wine & Gold got contributions up and down the lineup, led by Donovan Mitchell, who finished with 35 points in the win. Orlando made 37 trips to the free throw line, but shot just nine percent from beyond the arc as the Cavaliers won for the eighth time in their last 11 outings.
*** “It felt good to play good basketball,” said Coach J.B. Bickerstaff following the win. “To go out and play a style that I know we’re capable of playing. And you look up and down the stat sheet and everybody contributed in some way. And I think that’s what Cavaliers basketball has always been. That’s our aim. And I’m just proud of our guys for going out against a very good basketball team and digging it out, setting the tone early and carrying it out.”
*** Mitchell scored 23 of his 35 points before intermission – his top scoring mark before half this season – going 8-of-12 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from long-range and 4-of-5 from the stripe through the first 24 minutes. On the night, the four-time All-Star was an even 12-of-24 from the field, including 5-of-10 from deep. Wednesday was Mitchell’s seventh game topping the 30-point mark this season.
*** “This is who we are, this is how we have to play as a group, as a whole,” said Mitchell after the win. “Now let’s do it again – that’s my mindset. Not get too excited, but it’s a step in the right direction. We have a tough schedule coming up. We need some wins. And we have to continue to play this way on both ends of the floor.”
*** Darius Garland was outstanding on Wednesday night – finishing with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, handing out a team-high nine assists without committing a single turnover on the night.
*** Of Garland’s 10 field goals against Orlando, he scored eight of them in the paint and one right off the elbow. Asked how he was able to penetrate the defense so easily on Wednesday night: “Our bigs were setting good screens and their bigs were in a drop, so they weren’t really up to touch as much,” said Garland. “Just trying to get two feet in the paint and try to make the right decision from there – and a couple shots went in.
*** When DG the PG connected on his first three-pointer of the night late in the third quarter, he tied Daniel Gibson for 7th on the Cavaliers all-time list, now with 578 career triples. Next up on the list is J.R. Smith at No. 6 with 585.
*** For the seventh time in his last nine games off the bench, Georges Niang notched double-figure scoring – finishing with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-5 from deep to go with five boards and three assists. Over that nine-game stretch, the Minivan is averaging 10.9ppg on 47 percent shooting from the floor, 41 percent from three-point range.
*** On the defensive end, Wednesday marked a season-low for three-point percentage allowed – holding the Magic to just 2-for-23 from beyond the arc, or technically .087. Their previous low this season was holding the Knicks to 5-for-30 (.150) in a road win back on November 1.
*** Jarrett Allen led both teams with 11 rebounds on Wednesday – his third straight game with double-digit rebounds, fifth in the last eight outings.
– In another milestone on Wednesday night, Tristan Thompson appeared in his 635th game as a Cavaliers, tying the man whose nickname is “Mr. Cavalier” – Austin Carr for 6th on the franchise’s all-time games-played list. Tristan – who still holds the team’s durability record after suiting up for 447 straight contests – will crack the Cavs top 5 when he catches Hot Rod Williams at 661.
*** After playing six of their last seven at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Wine & Gold hit the road for the next four – beginning with a Friday night matchup with the Heat on South Beach, followed by a rematch with the Magic on Monday night in Orlando. The following night, Cleveland plays the first of two in Beantown, wrapping up the roadie next Thursday.