Dribbles: It’s ‘la victoire’ as Donovan Mitchell, Cavs race by Nets in Paris

Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ impressive 111-102 win over the Nets in France on Thursday.Donovan Mitchell

1. Maybe the Cavs should play more games on neutral courts. Or more games in Paris. By the middle of the first quarter, it was pretty much bonne nuit to the Nets.

2. In the event you don’t feel like Googling that as I did, “bonne nuit” is French for “goodnight.”

3. The game was held in the middle of the afternoon in the United States, giving it the feel of a scrimmage. The Cavs did the rest by coasting to a 16-4 advantage and barely being threatened after that.

4. The only bad news is Max Strus exited in the first quarter and never returned. He’s the only starter who hasn’t been injured this season. But that looks to have changed. The Cavs called it “knee soreness.”

5. Strus was replaced by Sam Merrill to start the second half. It was just last week that Strus praised Merrill for being a big reason why the Cavs continue to be pretty good without injured Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. Merrill struggled shooting (2-of-12) but did grab nine big rebounds and found other ways to contribute.

6. Of course, I’ve typed all this and have yet to mention Donovan Mitchell — who gave his absolute best showing of the season with 45 points on 15-of-30 shooting. Thirty shots are usually too many for one player, but the Cavs needed scoring and Mitchell delivered. And it’s hard to argue with the team’s results.

7. It’s also hard to argue with the fact Mitchell tied Jarrett Allen with a game-high 12 rebounds and passed for a game-high six assists. These reasons and more are why the Cavs (22-15) have won four straight and six of eight.

8. The Cavs once led by 26. The Nets never led once.

9. Caris LeVert also came up big with 21 points off the bench. He’s been very good for the majority of the season. Caris delivered in Paris. Allen and Isaac Okoro added 12 apiece and Georges Niang scored 10. Allen also swatted four shots against the team with which his career began.

10. Meanwhile, Tristan Thompson scored one point before his ejection for scrapping with Nets center Nic Claxton. Thompson actually was tossed for a Flagrant 2. Either way, if you’re a Cavs fan, you can’t help but love Thompson, whose one-year contract was guaranteed for the rest of the season on Sunday.

11. Dean Wade played 27 minutes with four points, two steals and two assists. As we relayed here, there’s a chance the Nets may have some interest.

12. Frankly, I think the Cavs will explore tons of options ahead of the trade deadline but stand pat. I just don’t think they want to break up the rotation for another rotational piece. That’s mish for mash.

13. For instance, the Cavs have been linked to Nets forward Dorian Finney-Smith, as I posted here. He finished this game with 0 points on 0-1 shooting. Wade was also 0-of-1 shooting. See where I’m going with this?

14. Fans love trades for the sake of them. In fairness, some GMs do, too. Koby Altman is not one of those GMs. So I don’t see him forcing a deal.

15. Anyway, back to the game. Mikal Bridges led the Nets (16-22) with 26 points. He won’t be traded. Cam Thomas also scored 26. He could be traded, but I doubt it.

16. The Cavs now get a few more days off as they make their way back to the U.S. They next face the Bulls in Cleveland on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr Day. Bottom line: They’ve put together another fun run, keeping themselves in the playoff chase and showing tons of heart and a good amount of belief along the way.

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