Two teams looking to build upon impressive wins go head-to-head on Monday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Sacramento Kings.
After uninspiring starts to the season, the Cavaliers and Kings showed flashes of their 2023 playoff form when Cleveland won 118-110 at Golden State on Saturday, one day after Sacramento defeated the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder 105-98.
Finally able to settle into a rotation with Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert, the Cavaliers used balanced scoring to get the better of Golden State in the continuation of a four-game trip.
LeVert had 22 points off the bench to pace Cleveland, while all five starters — Donovan Mitchell (21 points), Darius Garland (19), Evan Mobley (19), Max Strus (16) and Allen (12) — also scored in double figures.
Even backup Dean Wade, who had just eight points, contributed two key 3-pointers as the Cavaliers were staving off a Warriors rally early in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff singled out LeVert afterward, taking time to point out a buzzer-beating tip-in at the end of the third period after the Cavaliers had blown a 17-point lead to fall behind by one.
“There are just small plays that win you basketball games,” Bickerstaff professed. “Everyone’s going to look at the fourth quarter or a big shot there, but games are won and lost through the entirety of the game. That play was able to steady the momentum a little bit and give us a chance to go into the fourth quarter with the lead.”
The win was just the Cavaliers’ fourth in nine games. They have yet to follow a win with another.
A matchup with the Kings means a reunion of sorts between Cleveland’s big men and Sacramento star Domantas Sabonis, who spent five seasons as a Central Division rival with the Indiana Pacers.
Sabonis got the better of Mobley and Allen last year when he had 21 points in a 127-120 home win in November, then an 18-point, 18-rebound double-double when the Kings completed a season-series sweep with a 106-95 triumph at Cleveland in December.
Sabonis has 10 career double-doubles in 20 games against the Cavaliers.
The three-time All-Star put up his first triple-double of the season in Friday’s win over Oklahoma City, going for 17 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists.
The triple-double was the 15th for Sabonis since he joined Sacramento in a trade in February 2022. That broke a tie with Chris Webber for second place on the Kings’ all-time list, trailing only the great Oscar Robertson, who remains light years ahead with 176.
Even with Sabonis’ historic achievement, Kings coach Mike Brown noted that his club couldn’t have won a second straight game for the first time this season without the contributions of others, especially Kevin Huerter, who had 28 points, and Keegan Murray, who chipped in with 24.
“Obviously, Kevin was big for us. He opened up the game in a lot of different ways for us. He shot the ball well, made plays for us,” Brown boasted. “Keegan was great for us, too. He made a couple of big threes late in the second half. He looked good, shooting the ball with confidence, and it was fun to see it go in.”
–Field Level Media
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