Cavaliers sink the Clippers 118-108       
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - On Monday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse the Cleveland Cavaliers got one of their foundational players back when Forward Evan Mobley was activated to play against the visiting Los Angeles Clippers (30-14, 11-10 road). Mobley had been out since December 6th. Mobley then had surgery to fix the issue with his left knee and missed 22 games total.

Entering the game on Monday night the Cavaliers led the all-time series with the Clippers (Buffalo Braves, San Diego Clippers) 77-59. The Cavs have a 49-21 record in Cleveland (Cleveland Arena, Richfield Coliseum, RMFH). This was the first meeting this season between the two teams, with the Cavs winning the contest 118-108. The two teams will meet again in L.A. on April 7th when the Cavs play their final road game of the regular season at 3:30 pm.

The Cavs took an early 5-2 lead on a rebound and layup by Jarrett Allen with 10:29 left on the first quarter clock. With 8:40 left after getting fouled by Terrance Mann Allen made two free throws giving the Cavs a 9-4 lead. Mobley who started but was on a minute’s restriction (he played 20 minutes) went to the bench scoreless with 7:32 left on the first quarter clock, replaced by Dean Wade who had been starting in Mobley’s absence. The Clippers cut the Cavs lead to one point at 11-10 with 6:31 left after Allen turnover on a layup by Paul George. On the Cavs next possession with 5:52 left in the first period Kawhi Leonard picked up his second personal foul and Clippers coach Ty Lue took a timeout. The game continued to be a close affair through the first half of the first period with the Cavs holding the slimmest of leads at 13-12 until Max Strus got on the board with a three with 5:16 left on the first quarter clock giving the Cavs a 16-12 lead. After the Clippers cut the lead to 16-14 on a couple of free throws by Leonard after he was fouled by Strus. On the next Clippers possession Mason Plumlee was fouled by Mitchell and he hit one of two cutting the Cleveland lead to 16-15 with 4:30 left on the clock in the opening period. The Cavs then went on an 8-2 run to take a 24-17 lead with 3:22 left on the clock. Lue had seen enough and called a timeout to calm his troops. With 2:55 left on the first quarter clock on a pass from Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley got on the scoreboard on a thunderous dunk giving the Cavs a 26-17 lead. Leonard cut the Cavs lead to 28-23 with 1:14 left in the period when he hit a jumper in the paint. As time ran out in the first 12 minutes with :04.7 left on the clock Strus picked up his second personal foul sending Russell Westbrook to the line, he drained both and the Cavs lead was 28-25 at the end of the period. Mitchell led all scorers with 10 points in the first quarter. Leonard led the Clippers with eight first quarter points. The Cavs won the first quarter battle of the boards 14-9. The Clippers led the battle of the paint 14-12. The Clippers also led the Cavs in points off the bench 12-5. The Cavs did look good on the fast break with eight points and the Clippers were scoreless.

The early minutes of the second quarter belonged to the Clippers who outscored the Cavs 10-3 to take a 35-30 lead with 9:57 left in the first half after James Harden hit two free throws after he was fouled by Mobley, his first personal foul of the game. The lead continued to grow after what looked like an offensive foul on Westbrook was called a blocking foul on Sam Merrill and Westbrook drained one of two to give the Clippers a 36-30 lead with 9:35 left. Isaac Okoro cut the lead to three points on a three pointer with 9:11 left on the clock. Mobley then picked up a rebound on a Harden missed three-point attempt and took it the length of the floor to slam home the dunk and cut the Clippers lead to 36-35 with 8:21 left. Once again former Cavs floor boss Lue called a timeout for Los Angeles. Okoro then tied the game 38-38 with 7:28 left on his second three of the quarter. After Clippers scored the next four points to take a 42-38 lead Allen hit a fall back jumper in the paint to cut the Clippers lead to 42-40 with 6:13 left in the quarter. The Clippers lead increased to 45-40 when Terrance Mann hit a three from the baseline with 5:21 left. With 4:10 left and the Clippers up 47-42 the Cavs had a chance to cut the lead to three points after Plumlee fouled Allen, but Allen missed both free throws. The Clippers took advantage at the other end when Leonard hit a fadeaway to give Los Angeles a 49-42 lead with 3:50 left in the half. The Cavs then went on an 11-2 run over the next 2:11 to take a 53-51 lead with 1:39 left in the first half after Okoro hit two free throws after being fouled by Harden. The foul was Harden’s first of the game. With :01.1 left on the clock in the first half Okoro, who is constantly maligned by Cleveland fans and some media hit a three-point shot to give Cleveland a 56-52 lead at the halftime break. Okoro led all scorers at the break with 17 points. Leonard led the Clippers with 14 points in the first half. The Cavs outrebounded the Clippers 25-20.

The Cavs maintained their lead early in the third, but the Clippers cut it to 62-61 with 8:16 left in the third on a put back by Leonard. After Mobley committed his second personal foul with the Cavs up 64-63 Leonard hit two free throws to give L.A. the 65-64 lead with 7:24 left on the clock in the third period. Just :24 later the Cavs regained the lead 67-65 when Wade hit a three. The back and forth battle continued with 5:10 left in the third Leonard gave the Clippers a 70-69 lead on a three from the top of the arc. The Cavs then regained the lead 72-70 on a three at the other end by Strus. Two possessions later the Clippers took the lead again when Leonard once again drained a three with 4:03 left. The Cavs responded as Mitchell drove the paint for a finger roll basket and was fouled. He hit the free throw to give the Cavs a 7575-73 lead with 3:51 left. The Clipper Amir Coffey responded with a three to put L.A. on top 76-75 with 3:35 left in the period. The answered back when Mitchell hit Allen in the paint, and he slammed it home to give the Cavs a 77-76 lead with 3:25 left in the third. The Cavs extended their lead to 82-78 on a three pointer from Caris LeVert with 1:35 left on the third quarter clock. The Cavs finished the period with a bang with LeVert scoring the final five points giving the Cavs an 88-81 lead with a buzzer beating jumper. Leonard led all scorers with 24 points through three periods. Mitchell paced the Cavs with 23 points. Okoro had 17 points and LeVert had 12 along with Allen. The Cavs were still winning the battle of the boards 36-29. The Cavs were still winning the battle in the paint 38-30.

The Cavs lead ballooned to 93-84 just 1:19 into the final period when Mobley dropped in a layup. The Cavs took their biggest lead of the night at 95-85 with 10:00 left when Georges Niang hit two free throws after being fouled by Norman Powell. It was his second of the game. The Cavs increased their lead to 12 points at 102-90 with 8:17 left when LeVert hit a jumper. Lue took an immediate time out. With 4:01 left and the Cavs up 109-101 Struss was charged with his fourth personal foul sending George to the line, he hit one of two to pull the Clippers to within seven points at 109-102. George was then charged with his fifth personal foul at the other end with 3:44 left and Allen converted both putting the Cavs on top 111-102. With 3:07 left and the Cavs up 111-104 George picked up his sixth foul. Lue asked for it to be reviewed and the call was upheld, and George was out of the game. Mitchell went to the line to shoot both free throws which he missed and the Cavs lead remained seven points. The lead was down to five with 2:39 left when Westbrook hit a jumper. The Clippers were then charged with an illegal defense, Mitchell shot the technical and put the Cavs up 112-106 with 2:21 left in regulation. After an Okoro turnover the Clippers Coffey scored a on a layup and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but the Cavs lead was now 112-108 with 1:35 left. The Cavs responded with a jumper by Mitchell to extend the lead to 114-108 with 1:09 left. The Cavs once again responded defensively stopping the Clippers on the other end. Allen then put in a tough layup after the defensive stand, he was fouled but could not hit the free throw and the Cavs led 116-108 with just :37 left on the clock. The Clippers then turned the ball over on a bad pass at the other end and with :32.3 left on the clock. The Cavs put the final hole in the Clippers bow as LeVert hit Allen in the paint and he slammed it home giving the Cavs a 118-108 win.

Leonard led all scorers with 30 points in a losing effort. The Cavs were led by Mitchell who dropped in 28 points including 2 of 10 from three-point range but was 9 of 11 inside the three-point stripe. Allen had 20 points and a monster 17 rebounds for his franchise record 15th double double in a row.  

The Cavs as a team outrebounded the Clippers 46-37 and won the battle of points in the paint 52-46. The Clippers bench did outscore the Cavs 44-29 which was basically the only category the Clipper led in the contest.

The Cavs will be in action next on Wednesday at RMFH at 7 pm against the visiting Detroit Pistons (6-40, 2-19 road).. 
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​POSTED 01/29/2024 22:22
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The Cavaliers hits a three pointer.     
                                                                                             Photo by Tommy Shirer