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Mobley Game Winner for Cavs Over Suns, 90-88

CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers (24-14) hosted the Phoenix Suns (20-18) in the teams’ first of two matchups this season. It was a low-scoring affair for both teams after an underwhelming first half, but soon turned into a competitive and scrappy battle in the closing minutes. The Cavs buckled down and hit their shots when it mattered, and defeated the Suns 90-88. And Mobley hit his first game-winner in his career!

 

The Suns have been a major force in the Western Conference in recent years, but have since cooled off this season as they are now 8th in the West and have lost 11 of their last 15 games. They also took a big blow as All-Star shooting guard and top scorer Devin Booker went down with a groin injury in December, so he will remain out for this matchup with the Cavs.

 

Cavs Starting Five

 

The Cavs went with the starting lineup of Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen. Mitchell, coming off his historic 71-point game against Chicago, started at point guard while Darius Garland remains sidelined (thumb). Mobley had missed the past two games with a mild ankle injury, but he is back in action in the starting five.

 

First Quarter

 

The opening quarter brought yet another sluggish start for the Cavs, starting the game 0-for-9. Fortunately, the offense was scarce for either team as the Suns struggled to shoot the ball as well. The Cavs hold the #1 rated defense in the league, which was on full display as they held the Suns to just 6-of-17 from the field. They also forced 6 turnovers including two shot clock violations. Despite the dismal start, the Cavs led 15-14 heading into the second quarter. 

 

 

 

Second Quarter

 

While hoping to right the ship in the second quarter, the Cavs’ offensive woes continued. Their first three-pointer didn’t come until just over four minutes to go, as they were 0-for-14 from behind the arc in that stretch. Nearly all the offense was funneled through Mitchell and LeVert, as neither Allen nor Mobley had yet to score in the first half. 

 

 

 

While they held the Suns to just 43 points entering the half, the Cavs only scored a meager 33 and went down by ten. If the Cavs have any hope of winning this game they need to spread the ball around, limit turnovers, and create smart shots.

 

Third Quarter

 

The Cavs were desperate to start off the second half quickly. They hadn’t been able to find a comfortable pace which played a massive role in the lackluster offense. Evan Mobley stepped up with a pair of free throws followed by a dunk, and he wasn’t afraid to get physical in rebounding. 

 

 

 

Although the Suns gained momentum and went on a 12-5 run, the unlikely hero in the third quarter was none other than Raul Neto. His quickness and aggressiveness on the defensive end was critical in forcing turnovers, and he supplied 10 points off the bench in the third. Perhaps his biggest contribution came in a steal-and-score bucket as the Suns were inbounding the ball. 

 

 

 

Fourth Quarter – Mobley for the win!

 

Caris LeVert made an immediate impact to begin the fourth quarter, scoring nine points in just the first three minutes. This crafty and-1 put the Cavs within just one:

 

 

 

LeVert also shot extremely well from behind the arc, going 5-for-7 and hitting them when it mattered most. The final minutes saw the two teams neck and neck, both trading baskets in an attempt to gain the upper hand. Donovan Mitchell sank a clutch three-pointer with 40 seconds to go, putting the Cavs up by three. When the Suns answered with a triple of their own, it was Mobley who hit the final shot with 4 seconds left that sealed the deal for the Cavs.

 

 

 

Top Performers

 

Caris LeVert: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 7-11 FG

Donovan Mitchell: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists

Raul Neto: 14 points, 2 rebounds, 5-7 FG

 

 

The Cavs will travel to Denver to face Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Friday, January 6th. This is the first of a five-game road trip for the wine and gold, and tip-off is set for 9:00 PM ET. Tickets can be purchased through SeatGeek.

 

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