NBA: Cavaliers book return to playoffs, down Rockets
Jarrett Allen recorded his 32nd double-double of the season and helped the Cleveland Cavaliers stave off the visiting Houston Rockets 108-91 on Sunday, a victory that clinched the Cavaliers’ first postseason berth since falling in the 2018 NBA Finals.
Allen finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Evan Mobley also recorded three blocks while posting 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists for the Cavaliers. Donovan Mitchell scored 22 points and Darius Garland paired 17 points with eight assists.
Jalen Green led Houston with 30 points, his 14th game of at least 30 this season. Alperen Sengun added 14 points, Kenyon Martin Jr. 13 and Jabari Smith Jr. 12 for the Rockets, who dropped their fifth consecutive game.
NOT TODAY. #LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/S3j30OoPy3FEATURED STORIES
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) March 27, 2023
After the Rockets (18-57) sliced a 20-point deficit to five through three quarters, Allen elevated the Cavaliers (48-28) with his two-way play. Allen followed his block of Tari Eason’s dunk attempt with two free throws that pushed the lead to 89-82 with 9:20 left.
He tallied two more free throws and a dunk at the 8:06 mark that extended the lead back to double digits at 93-82. The Cavaliers were not seriously threatened from there.
After totaling just 43 points in the first half, the Rockets climbed back into contention with their 37-point third quarter. Green scored 14 points on only five shot attempts in the period, going 3-of-4 from behind the arc and 3-of-4 at the free-throw line. The Rockets made four 3-pointers in the frame in addition to nine free throws and took advantage of Cleveland missing 6 of 7 3-pointers.
That big man connection. #LetEmKnow@evanmobley 🤝 @_bigjayy_ pic.twitter.com/hQYcEOkgoR
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) March 26, 2023ADVERTISEMENT
Cleveland led by as many as 20 in the third but made just one field goal over the last 4:40 of the frame, enabling Houston to close to within 85-80.
Mitchell drilled consecutive 3s to lead a 13-4 run that helped the Cavaliers grab an early 25-16 lead. Mobley stretched that advantage to 31-20 with a 13-foot fadeaway before Garland beat the buzzer with a 20-footer that allowed Cleveland to carry a 33-22 advantage into the second.
The Cavaliers turned up the dial even more defensively in the second, as Houston went nearly five minutes without a field goal before Kevin Porter Jr. converted a driving layup with 1:25 left.
Mitchell made 4 of 6 3s while scoring 18 first-half points as Cleveland led 60-43.
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