CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Memphis Grizzlies’ reputation for extracurricular activity on the floor is well earned.
It was on full display Thursday night inside Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, but the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t back down.
They just ran the visitors back to Memphis by turning a tight game into a blowout late, 128-113.
“They did a great job of keeping their composure and understanding what the main thing was – we still had to go out and win a basketball game,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “A lot of times teams like that, they can use that as motivation and fuel themselves. That's a spark that they need. And you've seen that happen before but I thought our guys did a great job of using it as a spark for us and continuing to grind and get stops and do things that were necessary to win the game.”
Here’s our look Beyond the Box Score from Thursday night’s win, the 22nd at home and 32nd overall this season.
1. Maybe Shannon Sharpe was on to something when he went after the Grizzlies as a spectator during a game in Los Angeles last month.
2. There’s a code in sports not to intentionally go below the belt. The Grizzlies would be wise to learn to follow it before one of their players pays the price.
3. With 5:48 remaining in the third quarter and the Cavs leading 81-76, things got ugly in a hurry. After Memphis forward Dillon Brooks drove the basket and fell to the floor, Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell collected the ball. Brooks rolled over on Mitchell’s ankle, and with a closed left fist, hit Mitchell between the legs. Mitchell threw the ball at Brooks as he fell to the floor before getting up and shoving Brooks twice as multiple players and coaching staffs from both teams jumped in the melee. After a lengthy video review, Brooks was charged with a flagrant-2 for the cheap shot. He was ejected along with Mitchell.
4. Brooks was lucky he was tackled by what appeared to be a member of the Grizzlies security team or an assistant coach because he was about to take a beating. Mitchell and the Cavs were not pleased with him but fortunately things didn’t escalate to a point where Mitchell threw punches which could draw a suspension. Brooks should be suspended.
5. Mess with the bull, you get the horns. It was nice to see the Cavs show their horns Thursday night. “I think it helped us a lot actually,” guard Darius Garland said. “It brought us together and we knew it. I think that's what really took us over and extend that lead a little bit because we were just so locked in. We was just focused on just getting a win instead of just worrying about other things.”
6. Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane picked up a technical foul for grabbing Cedi Osman's arm on a drive to the basket with 45.7 seconds left in the third as both players verbally expressed their displeasure with each other and were quickly separated.
7. There are questions about how the Cavs will respond to the physicality that comes with the playoffs. Thursday night was a very positive sign. “We are building our identity and sometimes you got to go through to tough times to really find your identity,” Ricky Rubio, who scored 13 points, said. “I think we're trying to be good guys, but that doesn't mean we allow teams to step over us. And tonight was a big example of that.”
8. “We some nice young men,” Garland said laughing when asked how he’d describe the Cavs’ personality as a team. “I mean we are still tough though. We are a tough group. You got some guys that get after you and we’re going to fight back. If you try to push us first. We know we are not soft or anything. We still some dogs, as I always say, and we'll never back down from nobody. We'll never lay down for nobody, especially not them guys over there.”
9. Garland, fresh off not making the East All-Star reserves, put on a show for the TNT audience. “I don't understand how he's not an All-Star,” Bickerstaff said. “Again, you look at what he's done, how he's helped this team win and that should be the priority. It's a little frustrating and disappointing that he was not on that team, but we know how valuable he is and how important he is to us and to this group on the court in the locker room.
And it is disappointing that it wasn't recognized, but he's our All-Star.” Garland scored 14 points in the opening quarter that saw the Cavs lead 30-26. Garland finished with 32 points and 11 assists – his 15th double-double of the season. “I will use it as motivation after the All-Star break, but I mean it's whatever,” Garland said. “We got other games to play. We got somewhere in where we want to get to trying to get to the playoffs. So the All Stars will come.”
10. Evan Mobley also stated strong with nine points and eight rebounds through 12 minutes. The eight boards in one quarter tied his career high set November 18, 2022 in the first quarter against Charlotte. He finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds – his 15th double-double.
11. Mobley and Allen combined for 35 points and 25 rebounds in the win. “We just try to protect the paint as best as possible, control the paint on the offensive end and defensive end,” Mobley said. “So me and him I feel like we played a very good two-way game on the defensive side and offensive side. We cleaned up a lot of rebounds as well.” Allen’s 18 points and 11 rebounds earned him his 21st double-double of the campaign.
12. Cedi Osman, who scored 21 points in place of Caris LeVert, passed J.R. Smith for fifth place on the Cavs all-time three pointers made list with his third of four triples in the game.
13. Six Cavs scored in double figures for the 13th time this season and they improved to 10-3 when they have six or more players score at least 10 points in a game.
14. The 33 assists on 42 field goals made marked the third straight game with 30 or more assists, the first time the Cavs have had such a stretch since they did it in three straight games from December 12-16, 2017.