The Cleveland Cavaliers returned home Monday to face the Brooklyn Nets on MLK Day after an impressive 5-1 road trip. The Cavs came into this game on a four-game winning streak and playing maybe their best ball of the season.
Brooklyn was without the league’s leader scorer, Kevin Durant(knee), who they could have used down the stretch. Behind Darius Garland’s 22 points and 12 assists, Cleveland held on to defeat Brooklyn 114-107 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
With the win, Cleveland(27-18) has won five straight and six out of their last seven, while Brooklyn(27-16) has lost two of their last three.
Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ big win over Brooklyn.
The Great for the Cavaliers:
-During the game, it was announced that Darius Garland was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, and on Monday, he started this week the right way. Garland had 22 points, six rebounds, and 12 assists. With just over three minutes left in the fourth and the game tied at 105, Garland assisted on a Lauri Markkanen three, and later, an Evan Mobley dunk that gave Cleveland a 110-105 lead with just over a minute left to go. He made all the right moves for the Cavaliers against Brooklyn.
-Jarrett Allen had his third consecutive double-double with 14 points(6/6 FG) and 10 rebounds. He also had two big blocks. This was Allen’s fourth double-double in five games.
-Isaac Okoro returned to the starting lineup and was good on both ends of the court. Okoro had 15 points and two steals. In the fourth, the second-year guard did a great job on Kyrie Irving and helped limit the former Cavalier to four points on 2/7 shooting from the field. In addition, he put an exclamation point on the game when he stole an errant James Harden pass and finished it off with a jam to give Cleveland a 112-107 lead with 15.8 seconds to go.
-Lauri Markkanen had 14 points, including 4/9 from deep and six rebounds. Markkanen had made some big shots on the Cavs’ six-game road trip, and that continued Monday when he made a big three to give the Cavs the lead for good in the fourth.
-Fourth Quarter: Cleveland trailed 88-87 after three quarters. However, in the fourth, the Cavaliers took control of the game. Cleveland stepped up defensively as they held Brooklyn to 30% shooting, including 0/4 from downtown.
In addition, the Cavs shot 57% from the floor and made play after play down the stretch to get the win. Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 27-19 in the fourth.
The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:
Great win for the Cavs. We could find some bad, but not on this day.
Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff called this victory a “signature win” for Cleveland, and while this was a big win, a signature win might be a stretch because Brooklyn was without their best player in Kevin Durant. However, again, this was a big win.
If we look at the Eastern Conference standings, we see the Cavs slowly working their way up. At this point, Cleveland(fourth seed) is 1.5 games behind the Bulls(27-15) for the best record in the East, and they play the Bulls on Wednesday, so they could get even closer with a win.
“It’s a signature win for us against a high-level team,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “Obviously with reasons why and excuses coming back off that long road trip and all those things, playing against two of the most elite players in our league, and our guys figuring out a way.”
Cleveland heads back on the road to battle the Bulls in Chicago Wednesday night.
Best of the Rest:
-Kyrie Irving led the Nets with 27 points to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists. James Harden had 22 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists. Brooklyn had six players in double figures, including all five starters.
-Kevin Love had 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists off the bench, and rookie Evan Mobley had 12 points and six rebounds. It was the 12th straight game in double figures for Mobley.
Cleveland also had six players in double figures, and like Brooklyn, all five starters scored in double figures.
Lamar Stevens(knee) and Rajon Rondo(hamstring) missed Monday’s action.
Watch below as Garland and Okoro react to big win over Nets: