Dribbles: Cavs Sizzle, Get Needed Spark in Setting Undermanned Suns

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 112-98 road win over the Suns on Sunday …Darius Garland Landry Shamet

1. It’s true that the Suns didn’t have all of their main guns, but you can only beat who you play. And thanks to an impressive fourth quarter and a night of fantastic shooting, the Cavs did just that.

2. How great did things go for the Cavs in the fourth? Well, they started it by going on a 17-2 run. That right there was about all she wrote.

3. It came after coach J.B. Bickerstaff challenged his team to turn up the energy and put the game away.

4. The Cavs had all their guys — from Donovan Mitchell to Darius Garland to Evan Mobley to Jarrett Allen and beyond. The Suns were missing their All-Star starting backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, both out with injuries.

5. Those are all the big names, but Bickerstaff added that reserve point guard Raul Neto and forward Lamar Stevens were two of the game’s biggest difference-makers. He was right, as their hustle and willingness to do the dirty work truly did put the Cavs over the top.

6. For their efforts, Neto and Stevens were co-recipients of the Junkyard Dog award, given to the Cavs’ scrappiest man after a win. For what it’s worth, I mostly loved the Bally Sports Cleveland graphic that celebrated Neto’s night with a headline that read, “Nothing But Net-O.”

7. Bickerstaff on the win: “Raul and Lamar came in and gave us a big spark. We held them to six points for a large part of that quarter. It was our defense that was able to do it, and it turned into offense for us.”

8. Speaking of the offense, the Cavs went 45-of-78 from the field for .577 percent shooting. Per Cavs PR, that’s the best night on the road since March 15, 2015 — when the Cavs went .592 vs. the Magic.

9. Mitchell and Garland each scored 22 points to lead the way. But this what about as balanced as the Cavs have been. Mobley went for 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting and passed for six assists. Isaac Okoro also scored 14, and on 5-of-9 shooting. Allen and Caris LeVert each added 13 points, with LeVert and Garland tying for a team-high seven assists.

10. Or get this: The Cavs outscored the Suns by a whopping 28 with LeVert on the floor. Without a doubt, he’s been coming along nicely. You could say the same about Okoro. Overall, the Cavs (26-15) have won four of five.

11. Next up: Mitchell’s return game to Utah. That happens Tuesday.

12. This will also mark a return of Neto, though he’s already been back since he, Mitchell and Ricky Rubio were teammates with the Jazz. “Even in practice I say I’m tired of him having to guard me,” Mitchell told reporters of his feisty teammate. “He’s just been a guy that’s always ready.”

13. As for the return to Utah, Mitchell had this to say: “I don’t know what the response will be, I hope it’s cheers. There were a lot of positives despite not winning a championship. That’s not easy. Only one team does it. We had five cracks at it and we missed.”

14. Former Ohio State guard Duane Washington Jr. was magnificent for the Suns, scoring 25 points. But he was considerably less effective once Net-O came in.

15. Finally, I wrote earlier about how the Cavs are on the lookout for some additional perimeter shooting. You can check out that full post here.


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