Cavaliers move into 2nd place in the East after blowing out Kings 136-110     
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The Cleveland Cavaliers (32-16, 18-8 home) returned to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday night to face the Sacramento Kings (29-20, 15-12 road). The Cavs are the hottest team in the NBA with a six game winning streak and they have won 14 of 15.

After tonight’s contest the Kings lead the all-time series 65-62 and won the first meeting this season in Sacramento 132-120 on November 13. The Cavs however have an edge in Cleveland (Cleveland Arena, Richfield Coliseum, RMFH) 39-25 prior to Monday night’s contest. The Cavs did not mess around and blew out the Kings 136-110 and now are the second seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

The game started out as expected as the two teams traded leads 10 times in the first 8:20 of the game with the Cavs leading 26-25. Very little defense was being played by either club and both were shooting over 50% early. With 3:05 left on the clock Donovan Mitchell hit a three pointer to give the Cavs a 29-28 for the 14th lead change of the quarter to that point. The Cavs extended their lead in the final minutes of the first quarter and held a 39-34 lead when the first 12 minutes expired. Mitchell led all scorers with 13 points. Keegan Murray led the Kings with 10 in the first period. Sacramento outrebounded the Cavs 12-10. Points in the paint were even at 12 points apiece.

Evan Mobley gave the Cavs a seven point lead at 41-34 with 11:23 left on the second quarter clock when he pulled down a rebound and went the length of the floor to drop the ball in the basket. The Cavs built the lead to 50-41 with 8:36 when Isaac Okoro hit a long three. Then with 2:15 left in the second quarter former King Sam Merrill hit a three to give the Cavs a 68-54 lead. The Cavs clamped down on defense in the second quarter and stayed hot offensively allowing the Kings only 25 points while scoring 35 and had a 74-59 lead at the break. Mitchell led everyone with 19 first half points. Harrison Barnes led the Kings with 13 first half points. The Cavs had a slight edge on the boards in the first half 23-21.

In the first 3:20 of the third quarter the Cavs stayed hot and increased their lead to 16 at 85-69 on three by Max Strus. With 7:12 left in the third the Cavs started to pull away when they increased the lead to 93-72 when Jarrett Allen hit a jumper in the paint. The Kings responded and immediately cut the lead to 93-90 when they went on an 8-0 run capped off by a three by De’Aaron Fox with 6:01 left in the third. The Cavs built the lead back to 19 points at 101-82 with two consecutive three pointers with 4:10 left on the clock. As the third quarter clock expired after Malik Monk hit one of two free throws after a personal foul by Caris LeVert, his second the third quarter clock expired, and the Cavs held a 106-92 lead. Mitchell led everyone after three with 27 points. Strus had 20, 11 in the third. Barnes continued to lead the Kings; he had 19 points. Cleveland continued to lead the battle of the boards 29-27.

The final quarter began with the Cavs turning the ball over and then getting called for an illegal defense on the other end. Monk shot the technical free throw and was unsuccessful, but the Kings eventually hit two free throws after Evan Mobley committed his third personal foul and the score was 106-94 with 11:15 left in regulation. The Cleveland lead once ballooned to 19 points with 6:10 left when LeVert hit one of two free throws to give the Cavs a 122-103 lead. With 3:02 left LeVert put the icing on the cake when he stole the ball, took it the length of the court for a layup giving Cleveland a 131-105 lead. 15 seconds later Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff emptied his bench. With 2:25 left Merrill, who had just entered the game, did what he does best, he drained a three to give the Cavs a 134-105 lead. As the clock ran out the Cavs had sent a message to people in Cleveland and around the NBA that they are capable of blowing out good teams too, not just bad teams as they beat the Kings by 26 points.

The Cavs had seven players in double figures in the game with Mitchell leading the way with 29 points. Struss had 22, Mobley had 11 points and 14 boards for the double double. Barnes paced Sacramento in the losing effort with 22 points. The Cavs, who were outrebounded by the Kings in the first quarter 12-10 out did the Kings the rest of the way to win the battle of the boards on the night 45-40. The Cavs defense held Kings center Domantas Sabonis to 12 points, he entered the game averaging 19.9 per game. A key to the win was the Cavs win the battle in the paint outscoring the Kings 48-40 and took advantage of fast breaks outscoring Sacramento 31-12. Finally, the Cleveland bench outscored the Kings bench 44-37. The Cavs also played nearly perfect taking care of the ball only turning the ball over eight times in the game.

The Cavs will go back on the road Wednesday to play the Washington Wizards at Capitol One Arena at 7 p.m. 
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​POSTED 02/05/2024 21:53
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Cavaliers Jarrett Allen shoots a free throw.                          Photo by Tommy Shirer