CLEVELAND, Ohio – You can pick the MVP in the Cavaliers’ 115-92 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night.
There’s Darius Garland, who pulled off a total effort scoring 24 points on 9 of 16 shots and handing out six assists.
There’s also Evan Mobley, who added another stellar game to his resume for the NBA Rookie of the Year award. He scored 16 points on 8 of 11 shots and grabbed nine rebounds – but perhaps most impressively, he had five blocks of highlights, two over Chicago’s Zach LaVine (23 points, the highest in the team). It was the most blocks by a Cavs rookie in a single game since LeBron James (2003-04).
But then there is the bench. Ricky Rubio had nine assists and scored 11 points. Kevin Love caught fire in the decisive third quarter with three 3 points. He also finished with 11 points.
Cleveland also got double-digit nights from Jarrett Allen (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Lauri Markkanen (14 points). Defensively, the Cavs turned 18 Chicago turnovers into 13 points. The Cavs held Chicago 41.7 percent from field shots and 26.9 percent from behind the 3-point arc (7-for-26).
No matter how you slice it, the Cavs (14-12) took advantage of the opportunity in front of them, rocking a two-game losing streak.
The Bulls have come to Cleveland with an exhausted roster due to COVID-19 protocols. Chicago was without top scorer DeMar DeRozan, who averaged 26.4 points per game before entering health and safety protocols ahead of Chicago’s victory on Monday against Denver. Matt Thomas, Javonte Green and Coby White were all also on COVID protocols.
Cleveland led for most of it – Chicago only led the lead for 1:59 all night. Cleveland methodically used their variety of offensive weapons, playing the team style they have become known for this season. Of the 44 baskets made by Cleveland, 28 obtained assists. The Cavs shot 55% from field (44-80) and 46.4% from distance (13-of-28).
While Cleveland didn’t need a turn, the Cavs took a big lead in the third quarter, increasing to 22 points, bolstered by Love’s nine points and Garland’s seven. In the fourth quarter, Cleveland continued to accumulate. The margin rose to 26 before garbage time.
For Chicago, Lonzo Ball added 19, Nikola Vucevic 18 and Derrick Jones Jr. 11.
Mobley started the game 4-5 on the field, scoring eight of Cleveland’s first nine points. His mark was everywhere in the first quarter as he finished with a plus-minus of plus-12 as the Cavs built a 29-24 lead. In addition to his eight points in the first quarter, he also caught two boards, blocked a shot and got a steal. Rubio also scored eight of his points in the first quarter.
The Cavaliers built an 18-12 advantage in the first quarter, but the Bulls went on a 7-0 run to regain the lead in the only home and back during the game. With the game tied at 24, the Cavs recorded a 12-0 streak at the end of the first and the start of the second quarter. A 23-19 advantage in the second quarter pushed the Cavs to a 52-43 lead at halftime. The eight riders who played in the first 24 minutes had at least one basket.
Garland’s production has been consistent from start to finish. He scored 12 points in the first half and 12 in the second. Between Garland and Rubio, the Cavs helped on 11 of their 20 baskets made in the first half.
LaVine scored 17 points in the first two quarters, but Cleveland limited Chicago to 39.1% in the first half. Mobley had three blocked shots in the first 24 minutes.
More story for Mobley
The Cavs rookie became just the second freshman in franchise history to score 300 points and block 40 shots in 22 games or fewer, joining John “Hot Rod” Williams. Mobley hit that mark with a block at 10:23 in the second quarter. He got the seven points he needed at the start of the first quarter.
In his first comeback game of a calf strain, power forward Dean Wade scored nine runs on 3 of 4 shots, making three 3 runs. He didn’t enter the game until about four minutes from time.
The Cavs hit the road to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Departure is at 8 p.m. EDT.
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