The Cavaliers are about to embark on their second and final West Coast trip of the season – taking on some of the Conference’s heaviest hitters. On Tuesday night, they got a sneak preview, taking on the hottest team in the West.
The Cavaliers got their point guard back, but couldn’t quite close the deal – with a costly late turnover sealing the deal as Ja Morant outdueled Darius Garland to take a 110-106 thriller on Tuesday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
In a contest that was tight throughout, Evan Mobley’s hook shot with 36 seconds to play tied the affair at 104-apiece. Morant gave the Grizzlies a two-point edge with a floater on Memphis’ next possession.
On Cleveland’s next possession, Morant stripped Brandon Goodwin in the backcourt and scored on a layup to put the Grizz up, 108-104. Lauri Markkanen got the Cavs back to within a bucket on a layup with just under 20 seconds to go, but Morant drilled both his free throws in the closing moments and the Wine & Gold didn’t score again.
After rattling off six straight wins last month, the Cavaliers have dropped five of their last seven. The Grizzlies – which won their Western Conference-best sixth straight, have now had three separate win streaks of five games or more since the start of December.
Darius Garland was very good in his return – leading both squads with 27 points and 10 assists, going 9-for-26 from the floor, including 3-of-10 from deep and 6-for-6 from the stripe, committing just a single miscue in 35 minutes of work.
Jarrett Allen doubled-up with 22 points on 11-for-14 shooting, adding a game-high 12 rebounds to go with a pair of assists and a team-best three blocks.
Kevin Love also notched a double-double for Cleveland – his third in his last four outings – finishing with 18 points on 6-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-11 from deep, adding 10 boards in 29 minutes off the bench.
Evan Mobley was rock-solid again, chipping in with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, adding eight boards and a pair of blocks. Lauri Markkanen added 13 points, six boards and five assists to round out the Cavaliers in double-figures.
Ja Morant led six Grizzlies in double-figures with 26 points while Jaren Jackson Jr. chipped in with 22 in the win.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Darius Garland hits Jarrett Allen in stride with a long ally-oop pass that Allen catches and throws down on the break.
Memphis sealed the deal in the game’s closing seconds on Tuesday, but the contest was leveled off in the second half by a Grizzlies run right before intermission.
The Wine & Gold were cruising along in the first half – leading the entire way and taking an 11-point advantage, 55-44, on back-to-back bombs by Kevin Love and a massive alley-oop dunk by Jarrett Allen.
But those would be the last points Cleveland would score in the stanza as Memphis went on a 13-0 run to end the first half – taking a two-point edge into the locker room and keeping it close the rest of the way. Neither team led by more than six points in the second half.
BY THE NUMBERS
By the Numbers - 20.3, 10.3, .703 … Jarrett Allen’s scoring and rebounding averages, along with his shooting percentage from the floor, over the last three games after returning to the lineup after a four-game absence.
Allen, who notched his team-leading 19th double-double of the season, has blocked at least three shots in seven games this season – including three swats in each of the last three outings since his return.
Darius Garland, on how much he enjoys playing alongside Jarrett Allen …
"It was super-fun, but it’s been fun all year. He sets really good screens for me, and I try to reward him. So, it’s fun just getting a lot of lobs and he’s just laughing and smiling. It makes the game a lot of fun."
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 falling to Memphis to wrap up the three-game homestand, the Wine & Gold hit the road for a six-game, nine-day trip beginning on Friday night with a matchup against Larry Nance Jr. and the Blazers in Portland.
On Sunday evening, they travel to take on Steph Curry and the Warriors, followed by a visit to Sacramento for a battle with the Kings the following night. Next Wednesday, they travel to Utah before closing out the extended roadie with a back-to-back – facing the Spurs in San Antonio next Friday followed by a meeting with the Thunder in OKC on Saturday night.
The Cavs return to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for an MLK Day matinee against the Brooklyn Nets on January 17.