Part of becoming a good team in the NBA is learning to deal with both adversity and prosperity.
On Wednesday night, the young Cavs got a chance to show off their killer instinct – and they did exactly that, decimating a depleted Rockets squad, 124-89, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, wrapping up a perfect three-game homestand and running their win streak to five straight.
The Rockets – playing without Eric Gordon, Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood – never stood a chance against the streaking Cavaliers, who held Houston to just 16 points in the opening period and kept the hammer down all night.
The Cavaliers – playing without Evan Mobley, out with a sore right hip – scored 30-plus points in each of the first three quarters, shooting 56 percent from the floor as a team overall, including 45 percent (18-of-40) from beyond the arc. Simultaneously, the stingiest scoring defense in the East held Houston to just 39 percent from the field, just 5-of-29 from long-distance.
Darius Garland led a balanced scoring attack for the Wine & Gold, finishing with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-6 from deep, adding three assists and a pair of boards in 25 minutes of work.
Isaac Okoro continued his red-hot run, adding 20 points in just 22 minutes of action, going 7-of-9 from the floor – including a massive two-handed first half-dunk through three Houston defenders – going 7-of-9 from the floor overall, including a perfect 3-of-3 from long-distance.
Dean Wade, starting in place of the injured Mobley, chipped in with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-5 from deep, while also leading Cleveland with 10 rebounds in the win.
Following his season-high 23-point performance off the bench in Monday’s win over Miami, Kevin Love was rock-solid again on Wednesday – netting 15 points, going 4-for-6 from the floor, 3-of-5 from three-point range.
Lauri Markkanen was the fifth Cavalier in double-figures – tallying 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting in just 19 minutes.
Ricky Rubio led both teams with a season-high 12 assists and four steals, adding seven points and a pair of boards.
The Rockets also had five players in double-figures – four of them off the bench – led by rookie Alperen Sengun, who notched 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting, adding 11 rebounds in the loss.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Isaac Okoro throws it down over three Rockets defenders on this drive and dunk for a candidate for dunk of the year.
Wednesday’s contest was never really in doubt and never had a turning point. Cleveland was on the attack from the opening tip and Houston never caught its breath.
The Cavaliers scored the game’s first seven points and were up double-digits by late in the first quarter. Ricky Rubio’s steal and behind-the-back feed to Ed Davis, who scored on a layup at the buzzer, gave the Wine & Gold a 19-point edge after one period.
Darius Garland beat the buzzer to end the first half – scoring on a short floater to put Cleveland up 31 at intermission. In the second stanza, J.B. Bickerstaff’s squad opened up a 45-point lead before calling off the dogs.
BY THE NUMBERS
By the Numbers - 18.5, .700, .588, 1.000 … Isaac Okoro’s scoring average, along with his shooting percentages from the floor (28-for-40), beyond the arc (10-for-17) and at the stripe (9-of-9) over his last four games.
The No. 5 overall pick of last year’s Draft notched double-digit scoring in all four of those games after doing so just five times leading into his recent run. He topped the 20-point mark just three times as a rookie and has now done so twice in the last three outings.
Darius Garland, on the team’s mentality against a shorthanded Rockets squad …
"We already knew that mindset and that they were going to come in and play hard, being down so many bodies. So, we tried to put together 48 minutes. That’s what coach has been talking about all season – putting 48 minutes together of good basketball. I think we did that tonight, and we ended up with the result that we wanted."
CALLS OF THE GAME
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
After wrapping up a perfect homestand with Wednesday’s blowout over Houston, the Wine & Gold hit the road for three, traveling to Milwaukee for a Saturday night showdown with the Bucks followed by a trip to the ATL for a Sunday night matchup with the Hawks.
The Cavaliers wrap up the three-gamer with a Wednesday night trip to Boston to face the Celtics in the final game before the Christmas holiday. Cleveland comes home for a battle with the Raptors at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on the day after Christmas.