NBA: Donovan Mitchell helps propel Cavaliers past Wizards | Inquirer Sports

NBA: Donovan Mitchell helps propel Cavaliers past Wizards

/ 12:23 PM January 06, 2024

Cleveland Cavaliers NBA

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell (45) looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

CLEVELAND — Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points, Jarrett Allen had his sixth straight double-double and the Cleveland Cavaliers rolled to their second easy win in three nights over Washington, beating the Wizards 114-90 on Friday night.

The Cavs had a little tougher time against the Wizards than in their 140-101 blowout on Wednesday, when Cleveland reached season highs in points, rebounds, assists and 3-point percentage.

Mitchell made sure there was no slip-up, scoring 12 points in the third quarter to help the Cavs pull away.

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“We handled our business,” Mitchell said. “We just played steady basketball throughout. The biggest thing is taking care of these games and continuing to move forward. It’s expected of us.”

Allen finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. In his last six games, Cleveland’s center, who has been getting far more offensive touches than earlier this season, is averaging 19.6 points, 15.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists.

“I’m hard pressed to find a big guy who is playing better than Jarrett Allen,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We all need to take a serious look at his All-Star accolades because I don’t know many big guys, if any, that are playing better.”

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Caris LeVert had a season-high 11 assists and Georges Niang added 14 points for Cleveland.

Tyus Jones had 16 points to lead the Wizards, who came in allowing an NBA-worst 126.6 points.

Cleveland improved to 7-3 without point guard Darius Garland (broken jaw) and forward Evan Mobley (left knee surgery), who are both expected to be out another month.

The Cavs had to figure out a way to play without two of their best players, who combine to average over 36 points per game. There’s been an added emphasis on ball movement and cutting, and to this point, the results have been impressive.

“I don’t think it’s the numbers people were expecting, that’s the honest truth,” Allen said of Cleveland’s record without Garland and Mobley. “You see two All-Stars go down and you think, oh, things could spiral out of control.

“But we held our own and we are still a team capable of great things.”

Of course, it always helps to play an inferior opponent, and the Wizards just aren’t very competitive.

Washington had a season low in points while falling to 6-28 overall and 3-17 on the road.

Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. was hoping for a stronger performance in all facets from his squad, which got embarrassed Wednesday by being out-rebounded 62-36, a disparity that would have made his late father, a Hall of Famer, cringe.

Washington played tougher — the Cavs outrebounded them 52-31 — was still within striking distance midway through the third when Dean Wade and Mitchell hit consecutive 3-pointers to push Cleveland’s lead to 25. The Cavs outscored the Wizards 32-19 in the third.

“I felt we took more pride in what we were trying to do across the board,” Unseld said. “It was much better. Defensively, particularly in the first half, I thought we were really good.”

Mitchell made his first four shots and had three assists as the Cavs opened a 14-point lead in the first quarter, threatening to make it another runaway. However, the Wizards slowed them down with an 11-0 run and were within 12 at halftime.

It was another all-around effort in a string of them for the Cavs.

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“It’s one through 15,” Mitchell said. “It’s not just one person. When you got guys that know the game, moving the ball, moving around, being able to execute it makes life easier.”

UP NEXT

Wizards: Host New York on Saturday.

Cavaliers: Host San Antonio and rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama on Sunday.

TAGS: Cleveland Cavaliers, Donovan Mitchell, NBA

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