Dribbles: Right Now, Cavs Just Got It Goin’ On, As Win Over Knicks Reveals

CLEVELAND — Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 121-108 home win over the Knicks on Sunday …Donovan Mitchell

1. Sometime in the second half, the Cavaliers became the team that couldn’t shoot straight. Defense was an issue, too. They were fumbling, bumbling, stumbling. It started to look bleak.

2. But this team has Donovan Mitchell. It also seems to have at least one or two others who always step up on any given night. On Sunday, it was Kevin Love, and even Dean Wade. Especially Love.

3. So after three so-so quarters, Mitchell, Love and the Cavs (5-1) sprung to life — and in a big way. A nine-point deficit turned into basically a blowout for the home team. More specifically, the Cavs outscored the Knicks by a 37-15 count in the final 12 minutes.

4. That’s just the Cavs right now. Even when they’re not great, they’re still pretty good.

5. It all starts with Mitchell, of course. All he did was follow a 41-point outburst in Boston on Friday with 38, not to mention 12 assists.

6. Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Mitchell: “If there are five or six better offensive players in our league, I’d be hard pressed to name them. This dude is elite.”

7. Mitchell rarely came out in the second half, with Bickerstaff instead using timeouts to try to give the star guard a breather. “He told he could me he could go,” Bickerstaff said. “Where we were at (in the game), we needed him to go.”

8. So go Mitchell did. Not only for himself, but forcing the Knicks’ defense to collapse and opening the court for others.

9. Love took advantage, knocking down 9-of-14 shots, including 8-of-13 shooting on 3-pointers, on his way to 29 points. He even buried a three and drew a foul for a four-point play. Basically, the man was on fire on a night the Cavs really needed him.

10. Love to Bally Sports on the win: “It’s amazing to play with these guys. We work on that drive-and-kick every day. Everybody steps up. That’s the team we have.”

11. It sure is. Along with Mitchell, you can never really be too sure which player on the Cavs will beat you. These days, you just tend to find out that they will, in fact, beat you.

12. Granted, this wasn’t always pretty. It was undoubtedly less than perfect. The Cavs almost seemed as if they were still riding the high from beating the Celtics two nights earlier. There were times things got stagnant on offense, or the Cavs were a step slow on defense. But a win is a win is a win.

13. More Love: “Sometimes, if we’re gonna be a great team, we have to win ugly.”

14. Meanwhile, Wade looked almost as much like Love as Love himself — with Wade shooting 8-of-11 from the field (and 6-of-8 on threes) to tally a career-high 22 points.

15. Evan Mobley added a fairly quiet 16 points, and Isaac Okoro came off the bench to pay a vastly underrated role in helping the Cavs get things turned around defensively. Cleveland outscored New York by 24 with Okoro on the floor.

16. Yes, Caris LeVert followed his own 41-point eruption with … well, with one measly point. But he did rack up eight assists and while he couldn’t make a shot (0-of-9), he at least kept the Knicks’ defense honest.

17. Overall, the Cavs took a whopping 50 threes, a stat Bickerstaff admitted he thought he’d never see from a team he coached. But he added he’s not about to tell the players to stop, as long as it’ working. And for the Cavs, boy oh boy, it’s working.

18. Bickerstaff on the night: “To be honest with you, I think we only played one good quarter. It just happened to be the fourth. We’ve shown in spurts what we’re capable of.”

19. For the Cavs, that spurt has lasted at least five games.

20. Jalen Brunson and Evan Fournier each scored 16 to lead the Knicks (3-3), with Julius Randle and RJ Barrett adding 15 apiece. Former Cavs Isaiah Hartenstein came off the bench to add 12 points and nine rebounds. He looked good. The Knicks, however, don’t look much different than last season.

21. As for Darius Garland, it remains a mystery when he might return. Bickerstaff repeated what he’s been saying — that Garland is “improving” but not yet ready for game action. The latter could indeed change when the Celtics come to town on Wednesday.

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  1. Not only do we have KLove’s huge contract coming off the books at the end of the year, we may have his replacement already on the roster. Wade’s new contract is already looking like a steal. Yes, I know it is a small sample size but they guy played well last year when healthy.

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