Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ nail-biter of a 127-124 road win over the Pacers on Tuesday.
1. When you are talking about the Cavs’ overcoming yet another double-digit deficit to beat the Pacers, it’s hard to know where to begin.
3. You can talk about Lamar Stevens, staying ready when his name was called and swatting a potential game-tying layup into next week.
4. Or you can talk about how Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen did all the little things, getting buckets to boot, and played major roles in making sure the Cavs (38-27) would just not be denied. Mobley went for 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Markkanen for 21 points.
5. Of course, you could throw in just about everyone else, as the Cavs gave one of their gustiest performances in this pleasant surprise of a season. “Everybody stepped up,” Garland told Bally Sports Cleveland. “That’s our mentality.”
6. Basically, if this is how it’s going to go without the injured Jarrett Allen, the Cavs should be able to survive … and some nights, perhaps even thrive.
7. But the key to it all was Garland. No one looked more determined in making sure the Cavs kept pace with Indiana, which seemingly couldn’t miss through the middle two quarters. It was as if they brought back Reggie Miller or something.
8. Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Garland: “They tried a bunch of different things to stop him. And he figured out a way to get it done. We needed every single bucket. We needed something to get us over the hump, and he understood that.”
9. The end-of-the-game lineup that Garland, Mobley, Stevens, Markkanen and Dean Wade really got after it defensively, with Stevens and Wade both make plays to help save the day.
10. More Bickerstaff: “The contribution we got from everybody (led to the win). We were kind of struggling through the game, we felt like we kinda needed a group that could grit it out.”
11. Grit. The Cavs really did display it most of the night. But man, the Pacers (22-45) just could not miss. It seemed no matter how well the Cavs did defensively, the ball still went through the hoop. Somehow, someway.
12. To the Cavs’ credit, they didn’t sulk, they didn’t panic, they didn’t start whining to the officials — all things that can make a bad situation worse. Led by Garland and Mobley they just kept fighting, kept believing.
13. That has been the story of this team this season. Really. And that’s what makes this team so much fun.
14. One thing I’ll never understand is why the Pacers fouled Garland with the score tied at 124-all and 14 seconds to go. Maybe someone from Indy thought they were behind? Maybe they just wanted the last shot? Maybe they thought they had a foul to give?
15. Either way, Garland knocked down both free throws, setting up Stevens’ swat and enabling the Cavs to get a critical win with back-to-back road games against the Bulls and Heat up next.
16. Anyway, Allen has a fractured figure and bruised quad. The second one, you can live with (or at least play with). The finger, however, is a bit of a concern. Those tend to take longer to heal. If there is a bright side here, it’s that the injury is to his non-shooting hand. For now, though, that’s all we know.