Mitchell scores 23, Cavs blast Jazz, improve to 15-2 at home
CLEVELAND (AP) — Donovan Mitchell wasn’t seeking revenge.
He still has several close friends on the Utah Jazz, tight teammates he stays in touch with regularly on a group text.
On Monday night, Mitchell showed he’s doing fine since leaving them.
The All-Star guard scored 23 points in 23 minutes in his first game against the Jazz since they traded Mitchell to Cleveland this summer and Jarrett Allen added 20 and 11 rebounds, leading the Cavaliers to a 122-99 win.
The Cavs have won four straight, improving the NBA’s best home record to 15-2. The league’s best defensive team clamped down on the Jazz, holding them to a season-low 39.1 shooting percentage.
For Mitchell, who spent five seasons with Utah before being dealt to Cleveland on Sept. 1 in the stunning blockbuster, the quality victory meant more than any personal satisfaction.
“We did a lot of really good things collectively,” he said. “Obviously, we shot the ball really well, but defensively holding a team like this, that can shoot the ball really well and can score, under 100 points. We did a lot of things we can point to and say this is what we want to be.”
Mitchell said he was flooded with emotions going against the team that drafted him.
“It was weird,” he said. “But it was fun.”
The Jazz, who came close to trading Mitchell to the Knicks, instead sent the three-time All-Star to the Cavs in exchange for Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, rookie Ochai Agbaji and three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029).
Mitchell’s arrival has legitimized the Cavs, who barely missed the playoffs last season with the one of the league’s youngest rosters. He’s been everything Cleveland hoped, averaging 29.5 points per game while providing leadership.
He’s only been in Cleveland for a few months, but Mitchell looks at home.
“I’m comfortable,” he said with a smile. “I’m still trying to figure out the highways. But with this group, I feel like I’ve been a part of them for a while. The city, the fans, the team, everyone has welcomed me with open arms. The fit was pretty seamless.”
Darius Garland added 17 and Cedi Osman 22 (20 in the fourth during extended garbage time) for Cleveland, which shot a season-high 61.4% and opened a 23-point lead in the third. The Cavs coasted in perhaps its most complete game this season.
“They kicked our ass,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “They shot the ball unbelievably well from all three levels of the court. They play with great tempo, they bothered us with their physicality in the first half, which is what got us behind the eight ball.”
Mitchell, who came in averaging 36.9 minutes, got to enjoy a fourth quarter relaxing on the bench.
“We haven’t had one of these in a while,” said Mitchell, who spent time after the game catching up with Utah’s players, coaches and traveling party. “It’s always good to get a break. I’m not that old, but it’s always good to put the minutes down.”
Markkanen scored 24 — 22 in the first half — and Jordan Clarkson, yet another former Cavs player, added 23 for Utah, which has lost six straight on the road.
The Jazz are 5-15 since their surprising 12-1 start.
Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio has scrimmaged with the team’s G-League affiliate as he nears his return after season-ending knee surgery.
Although Rubio hasn’t played, just having him around has been beneficial to Cleveland’s young players.
“There’s a very rare group of people who have the presence that he has and that guys just want to be around and listen to,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Ricky is that guy and they love to play with him even more.”
Jazz: Sexton missed his sixth straight game with a strained hamstring. … C Kelly Olynyk (left ankle sprain) missed his first game, leaving G Malik Beasley as the only Utah player to play in all 33. … G Nickeil Alexander-Walker had the game’s wildest basket, blindly flinging the ball in over his head after he got stuck in the lane.
Cavaliers: Improved to 3-0 on a season-long, six-game homestand. … Outscored the Jazz 29-2 in fastbreak points. … F Lamar Stevens (right knee soreness) missed his second consecutive game. Stevens had started the previous eight, averaging 6.6 points, 5.9 rebounds while providing stellar defense.
Jazz: Visit Detroit on Tuesday night.
Cavaliers: Host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
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