The Cavaliers have posted victories this season that have featured some beautiful basketball. Through the first two games of the homestand, that’s not exactly been the case.
But the operative word is “victory” – and for the seventh time in the Wine and Gold’s last eight games, the squad emerged with the win, taking the 95-93 thriller and improving to 10 games over .500 (29-19) with a Monday night win over New York at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Despite the at-times ugly affair, Cleveland improved to 9-3 during the month of January and is now 10 games above sea level for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
The Cavs blew open a tight contest midway through the third quarter and improved their advantage to 15 points early in the fourth. But Cleveland got sloppy from there and allowed the Knicks to come storming back – tying the game on Julius Randle’s layup with 2:28 to play.
But Darius Garland drilled a monster triple right in front of New York’s bench with 1:23 to play and Evan Mobley atoned for a pair of big free throw misses just seconds earlier – splitting the pair with two seconds to play to preserve the win.
Mobley was one of three Cavaliers to notch a double-double in Monday’s win – finishing with 15 points and a team-high 12 boards, good for his second straight double-double, going 6-of-12 from the floor and adding five assists.
Kevin Love doubled-up off the bench – leading Cleveland with 20 points, going 6-of-12 from beyond the arc to go with 11 rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Darius Garland continued his torrid pace – notching his seventh double-double in the last eight games, finishing with 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting, adding a game-high 12 assists. Garland, who’s now averaging 12.2 assists per over that eight-game span, went just 1-of-6 from deep on Monday, but that single bomb proved to be the difference.
Isaac Okoro chipped in with 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting, adding six boards, a pair of assists and the team’s only blocked shot.
Dean Wade, pressed into starting duty while Lauri Markkanen rehabs from a sprained right ankle suffered in Saturday night’s win over OKC, rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures – finishing with 13 points, going 4-of-8 from the floor, including 4-of-7 from long-distance, adding five boards and a team-high three steals.
Cleveland wasn’t exactly razor-sharp in the win – committing 20 miscues that led to 26 New York points and struggling once again from the free throw line, missing eight attempts on the night. Luckily, the Knicks were even worse, going 11-for-21 from the stripe.
R.J. Barrett led both teams with 24 points in the loss, while Nerlens Noel grabbed a game-high 13 boards despite taking (and making) just a single field goal on the night.
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Isaac Okoro finishes the fast break off of assist from Cedi Osman against the Knicks.
Monday’s victory featured a one-man turning point midway through the third quarter.
Through the first two-and-half quarters, the game had 13 ties and 10 lead-changes – one of those ties coming on Kemba Walker’s jumper with 6:16 to play in the third period, knotting the contest at 61-apiece.
Darius Garland’s floater put the Cavs back up a deuce, and at that point, Cleveland’s 14-year veteran took over – splashing home three straight three-pointers, the final bomb putting the Wine and Gold up 11, 72-61, with 4:34 to play in the period.
Love’s two free throws later in the quarter put the Cavs up two TDs and they’d stretch their lead to 15 early in the fourth. As it turned out, J.B. Bickerstaff’s squad needed the entire cushion.
BY THE NUMBERS
By the Numbers - 17.1, 7.9, 2.9, 1.3 … points, rebounds, assists and blocks that Evan Mobley is averaging over his last 15 games, tallying double-figure scoring in each of them, with three double-doubles in the mix.
Over that span – the 20-year-old who leads his rookie class in rebounding, field goal percentage and blocks – is shooting 56 percent (111-197) from the floor. And with Monday’s win, Cleveland is now 9-1 this season when Mobley records a double-double.
Dean Wade, on his role with the Cavaliers …
”For me personally, the only thing I’m worried about is doing all the extra stuff – energy plays, being in the right spot on defense, and just being physical and active. Those are the only things I’m worried about. Offensively, we have weapons – KG, K. Love, Isaac, all those guys are going to do what they do. So, as much as I can help on the defensive end to take a little stress off them, so on offense they can do their thing.”
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 dropping the Knicks on Monday night, the Wine and Gold wrap up their three-game mini-homestand on Wednesday night – welcoming Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks to town for a big Central Division showdown.
The Cavs close out the month of January with a back-to-back – traveling to Detroit for a Sunday night matchup with the Pistons followed by a home meeting against Brandon Ingram and the Pelicans on Monday. The following week, it’s two for the road – heading to Houston on Wednesday followed by a visit to Charlotte two nights later.