CLEVELAND (AP) — There have been flashes of brilliance from Evan Mobley, tantalizing moments that convinced the Cavaliers he’ll dominate.
On Saturday night, he put it all together.
Mobley scored a career-high 38 points, Darius Garland added 21 and Cleveland bounced back from an embarrassing loss with a 114-102 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, who were again without injured star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Mobley made sure the Cavs shook off their awful performance in a 120-114 loss a night earlier to the Golden State Warriors, who beat Cleveland despite resting Stephen Curry and three other starters.
The 21-year-old Mobley finished 19 of 27 from the field and had his top scoring performance as a pro without making a free throw or 3-pointer. He added nine rebounds.
“That’s exactly what we want to see from (number) 4,” Garland said, referring to Mobley’s jersey. “Him being aggressive. Him just finding his pocket and doing what he does best. I would love to see that every night.”
Mobley is only the fourth player since 1979, when the 3-point line was adopted, to score at least 38 points without making a free throw or 3-pointer. Hakeem Olajuwon, Alex English (twice) and George Gervin are the others.
“He was aggressive,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “He was assertive. He was attack-minded. He was creating for himself and his teammates felt him rolling. I don think this is what he’s capable of.”
Mobley scored 12 of Cleveland’s first 15 points in the fourth and the Cavs, who were without star Donovan Mitchell due to a groin strain for the third straight game, put together a 12-2 run to separate from the Bucks.
Garland added 10 assists for Cleveland.
Drue Holiday scored 28 and Bobby Portis Jr. added 23 for Milwaukee, which played its fifth straight game without Antetokounmpo. The two-time MVP is nursing a sore left knee.
The Cavs have been urging Mobley to look to score more often, and he didn’t back down from the Bucks, who chose to stay tighter on Garland. The 7-foot Mobley powered his way to the basket and dropped several mid-range jumpers in the lane.
“He scored a lot of different ways,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He made everything. He did a little of everything. He did some things, really, everywhere. Mobley made the plays.”
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The injuries to Antetokounmpo and three-time All-Star forward Khris Middleton, who hasn’t played since Dec. 15 due to a sore right knee, have prevented the Bucks from developing continuity.
Still, they’ve stayed among the East’s top teams.
Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo hasn’t sustained a setback. The 28-year-old has been able to participate in 5-on-5 workouts the past few days and his availability is literally on a daily basis.
Budenholzer stressed the decision for him to sit is a collaborative effort, but that ultimately it comes down to Antetokounmpo whether he’s ready to play.
The Cavs honored former center and fan favorite Anderson Varejão during a halftime ceremony, celebrating both his 13-year playing career in Cleveland and new role with the team in player development and as a global ambassador.
The Brazilian native was known for his hustle, frizzy hairdo and warm personality.
“A guy that worked hard,” Varejão said when asked how he wanted to be remembered. “A guy who came from nothing and made it to the best basketball in the world. Someone who gave everything.”
Bucks: Portis Jr. recorded his 28th double-double. … C Serge Ibaka (personal reasons) and Milwaukee’s front office mutually agreed to seek a trade earlier in the week. … Middleton missed his 18th straight game. The former All-Star has only appeared in seven contests this season.
Cavaliers: Mitchell’s injury isn’t believed to be serious, but Bickerstaff said the team “will take our time” so it doesn’t turn into a lingering issue. … Bickerstaff notched his 100th win with the Cavs. … Cleveland committed just two fouls in the first 23:43. … F Dean Wade returned from a 24-game absence and played 10 minutes.
Bucks: Visit Detroit on Monday night.
Cavaliers: Visit New York on Tuesday night.
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