The Sacramento Kings visited Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse but were stripped of their nobility by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The former couldn’t stop itself from taking damage from all sides and bent the knee in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers claimed a 136-110 victory to extend a six-game win streak.
The Cavs recorded 48 paint points, six via second chances and 31 on the break in the win.
Important to mention: The Kings held the 18th Defensive Rating in November, 16th in December and 17th in January. And, before the match in Cleveland, it had given up at least 120 points 20 times this season.
Through two quarters Monday, ten Cavaliers got in on the action. The only one to remain scoreless was Georges Niang, but the ball moved like a hot knife through butter while he was on the floor. Donovan Mitchell was in charge, pouring in a few triples and supplying 19 points and four dimes.
The scoreboard highlighted 74-59 in favor of the hosts at intermission. Additionally, Cleveland scored 135.9 points per 100 half-court plays, good enough for the 99th percentile of all games this season. On top of that, it spent 27.1 percent of its attack in transition, adding 6.6 relief points in those possessions, per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required).
The group made life easier, boat racing the Kings for 31 fastbreak points while giving up 12. In this department, the leaders were Max Strus and Mitchell. The former had nine points, splashing threes on the break. The latter had eight, pulling up off the dribble and spraying after the catch from deep, plus dunking viciously with one hand.
In the second half, Evan Mobley tallied five of his seven assists (season-high), ending the night with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Strus and Caris LeVert punished the Kings with a combined nine three-pointers, and Mitchell added 10 extra points and capped off his evening with a self-lob after Kevin Huerter made him pick up his dribble at the left elbow.
The Cavaliers invaded the lane whenever it pleased. Mitchell got into the square off a backdoor cut on the baseline for a deuce and made three more shots in the paint in the halfcourt. He dusted Keegan Murray and Domantas for layups and hit a fadeaway over De’Aaron Fox.
Evan Mobley broke the Kings’ zone, attacking from the right and left side. All five of his baskets came in the box. After extending his range and going three-for-three from deep against the Spurs, Mobley only attempted one three-pointer against the Kings.
Jarrett Allen had two points when he checked back into the first half for Mobley with six and a half minutes left. He scored eight more by rim rolling, dunking on the break and busting an opening of the zone on the right side for a layup. He also finished with the most points of any Cavalier in the interior (14).
The rest of the Cavaliers made seven of 15 attempts in the paint.
Cleveland's interior attack led to a healthy number of extra-point opportunities from the charity stripe. The hosts attempted 17 free throws and made 11. The Kings foolishly fouled Mitchell on a three-point try and committed penalties trying to stop the Cavaliers in the open and half court and when trying to secure rebounds.
Attacking through pick-and-roll and swinging the rock caused the Kings to sag away from the arc. The dribble handoff also bought the Cavaliers space to hoist trays. In the first half, seven different Wine and Gold members connected from deep.
Strus buried six trifectas out of 10, and one of them included a pull-up on the right wing in transition. His others came when the defense overreacted to the ball, failing to close out on time, shooting behind Mobley’s DHo and when he caught and fired on the break.
In total, the unit inflicted 23 of 41 3-pointers on its guests. Mitchell was the next Cavalier in target practice - firing after the catch, swishing against drop coverage and pulling up on the wing in front of a mismatch. He made five of 11 triples. Caris LeVert and Sam Merrill each produced three of four 3-pointers, and the other Cavaliers made half of their deep looks.
The Cavaliers ended the match scoring 124.4 points per 100 half-court plays, good enough for the 97th percentile of all games this season. In transition, it notched 165.2 points per 100 plays, marking it at the 88th percentile of all outings this year, per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required).
The group has won nine of its last 10 and has jumped to second place in the Eastern Conference. What should concern the rest of the East is that the starters are back together, and the Wine and Gold haven’t missed a beat. The Cavaliers haven’t peaked yet.