Donovan Mitchell has as good as advertised for the Cleveland Cavaliers after being acquired from the Utah Jazz in a blockbuster trade over the summer.
In fact, he’s probably been more.
Mitchell erupted for his 12th 30-point performance in the Cavs 23rd game of the season, dropping 34 to lead the Wine and Gold to a 107-96 win over the shorthanded but scrappy Magic on Friday night at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Mitchell joins Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only players with 12 or more 30-point games this season.
Kevin Love returned from a five-game absence while he dealt with a hairline fracture suffered on Nov. 18th in a double-overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets. Love sat out the next game two nights later against the Heat before attempting to play with a split and brace against the Atlanta Hawks.
He played 12 minutes but didn’t score and took only two shots. Cavs’ head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said it was about managing the pain for Love, but he worked out before the game Friday evening and scored before giving it a go.
He hardly looked like the thumb was bothering him, scoring 11 points and pulling down ten rebounds while drawing a pair of charges on the defensive end of the floor.
Orlando has been dealing with a slew of injuries and was missing Jalen Suggs and Wendel Carter Jr. Just prior to tip-off, the Magic announced Mo Bamba wouldn’t play as he dealt with back spasms.
Despite losing six-straight games, the Cavs expected Orlando to compete for 48-minutes. Magic coach Jamahl Mosley gets the most out of his team and they rarely run up the white flag.
The Cavs allowed Orlando to shoot 54% from the field in the first half and led by only seven points at the break, but they pulled away in the third quarter and outscored the Magic 28-17 to take a double-digit lead.
Cleveland gave up two points in the final two-and-a minutes of the third quarter.
Darius Garland scored 18 points and added six assists in the win for the Cavs while Evan Mobley had a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Lamar Stevens also returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with a non-COVID related illness and scored eight points, including canning a pair of triples.
The Cavs have been one of the top teams in the NBA on their home floor and have a 10-1 record at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse this year. They travel to New York on Sunday to take on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
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