CLEVELAND — Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points in his first game against the Utah Jazz since they traded him to Cleveland this summer and Jarrett Allen added 20, leading the Cavaliers to a 122-99 win on Monday night.
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.
Mitchell spent five seasons with Utah before being dealt to Cleveland on Sept. 1 in a stunning blockbuster trade. The Jazz 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.
Darius Garland added 17 and Cedi Osman 22 (20 in the fourth during extended garbage time) for Cleveland, which pushed an 18-point halftime lead to 23 in the third and coasted.
Mitchell, who came in averaging 36.9 minutes, played just 23 and got to enjoy a fourth quarter relaxing on the bench.
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.”
Mitchell and first-year Jazz coach Will Hardy became close while with Team USA at the 2019 World Cup, spending more than one month together in China.
Four days after Hardy was named Utah’s coach in June, he happened to be at Mitchell’s house in Connecticut discussing plans for the future when the Jazz traded star center Rudy Gobert to Minnesota.
Everything changed, and Mitchell’s trade followed.
“We have since laughed about having that moment together and just how weird that is,” Hardy said “Especially as a first-time head coach. But that’s the part of this business that you can never predict. Definitely a moment I will never forget.”
Jazz: Sexton missed his sixth straight game with a strained hamstring. Hardy said the hope is Sexton will be back “in the next week or so.” … 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 that concludes Dec. 26. … 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. … Cleveland also went 15-2 at home to open the 2015-16 championship season.
Jazz: Visit Detroit on Tuesday night.
Cavaliers: Host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
[Video] Youtube Best Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley plays at the rim on either end this season
Take a look at the frontcourt for the Cavs putting in work on both ends of the floor this season!