Dribbles: Evan Mobley Shines, Cavs Rise To Fend Off Clippers In OT

CLEVELAND — Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 120-111 home win over the Clippers on Monday.

1. That one was just tons of fun. Of course, if you’re the Cavaliers, every win is fun. But this had excitement, some back-and-forth and the season’s first overtime. Evan Mobley Ivica Zubac

2. Yes, this was the first time the Cavs went to OT. So make it 1-0 in that category. Mostly, make it a much-needed victory, coming against an opponent that had been riding high lately.

3. The Cavs held a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter … and blew it. It was easy to wonder if their little skid might continue. It wasn’t all the Cavs’ fault. The Clippers have been playing with tons of determination under old friend Tyronn Lue, the only NBA coach to win a title in Cleveland.

4. But the Cavs made most of the big shots, got a lot of the key stops, and did the little things needed to start off a five-game homestead on a high note.

5. Rookie Evan Mobley had a career-high 30 points, surpassing his previous high of 29 (Feb. 2 vs. Rockets). He was especially aggressive in looking for his shot, finishing 13-of-22 from the floor and six rebounds.

6. Mobley on the evening: “I’m just going out there and being aggressive. I feel like my teammates have put me in good spots to score and defend, so I’m really just trying to get better.”

7. It was also a banner night for Darius Garland (no surprise there), who went for 24 points and 13 assists. Isaac Okoro was excellent with 20 points, attacking the basket, drawing fouls and knocking down his free throws. Lauri Markkanen went for 17 points, and like Garland, buried a critical 3-pointers.

8. While the Cavs made their mistakes, the intensity was there. Both Okoro and Mobley said after the game everyone is trying to take a more playoff-like approach.

9. More Mobley: “We’re really trying to have that sense of urgency and just keep it moving forward, keeping getting better before the playoffs.”

10. Don’t look now, but the Cavs (39-29) are won victory away from 40 wins. Before the season, not a single soul on the planet predicted them to hit 40. They will do that and more.

11. Not to be forgotten in all this was the return of Caris LeVert, who missed the previous two weeks with a bum foot. He finished with 11 points (5-of-10 shooting), seven rebounds and was extremely active defensively. As Cavs analyst Austin Carr said, you could really tell LeVert missed being out there. He was amped.

12. LeVert and Kevin Love (13 points) were the only two Cavs reserves to score. In an interesting twist, Cedi Osman played just eight minutes. Dean Wade (knee) and Rajon Rondo (ankle) were added to the list of inactives before the game.

13. Ivica Zubac led the Clippers (36-35) with 24 points. He had some praise for Mobley after, as the two battled it out in the paint all night. “I like Mobley’s game a lot, and he’s gotten a lot more aggressive than he was early in the season,” Zubac said. “Now, he’s settled in and you can see the improvement in his game.”

14. Love embraced Lue during a timeout. Love, of course, is the only remaining member of the 2016 title team. Lue received a video tribute on the Jumbotron before the game. “It felt great,” Lue said. “Just reflecting on the great memories I had here is always special.”

15. Next up: The Cavs get Joel Embiid, James Harden and the 76ers again. This time, though, it’s at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse — where the Cavs will play 10 of their final 15 games.

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