NBA: Cavs have no trouble disposing of short-handed Rockets

Houston Rockets' Josh Christopher splits the defense of Cleveland Cavaliers Mamadi Diakite and Caris LeVert. PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORT

HOUSTON - Darius Garland scored a game-high 26 points while Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen recorded double-doubles as the Cleveland Cavaliers cruised to a 113-95 road win over the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

Garland shot nine of 16 from the floor, connected on five 3-pointers, and added nine assists and four steals to his ledger. Mobley posted 21 points and 10 rebounds while Allen chipped in 14 points and 10 boards for the Cavaliers, who led by as many as 32 despite playing without All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, sidelined for the fourth time in five games with a left groin strain.

Missing three of their primary ball handlers – Kevin Porter Jr. (foot), Eric Gordon (knee) and Jae’Sean Tate (ankle) – the Rockets were a rudderless ship offensively. Houston committed 22 turnovers that yielded 40 points for the Cavaliers and were paced in assists by second-year center Alperen Sengun, who paired 14 points with seven assists in 30 minutes.

Jabari Smith Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. also scored 14 points for the Rockets while rookie Tari Eason added 18 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

From the start, the Cavaliers got everything they wanted offensively. Allen, Garland and Mobley shot a combined 10 of 14 while totaling 28 first-quarter points, with Allen and Mobley combining for five dunks as Cleveland amassed 22 points in the paint in the opening period.

The Rockets posted a superior shooting percentage in the first quarter while connecting on 10 of 17 field goals. But Houston committed six turnovers that enabled the Cavaliers to hoist seven additional shot attempts while also converting those turnovers into 15 points.

After Houston sliced what was once a 14-point deficit to 44-36 on an Eason free throw with 8:28 remaining in the half, the Cavaliers responded with a decisive 12-0 run that was part of a larger surge that closed the second quarter, one that saw Cleveland extend to a 29-point lead.

Not only did Cleveland receive double-digit scoring halves from Mobley (18 points), Garland (15) and Caris LeVert (12), the Cavaliers’ bench contributed 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting before the break. Cleveland hit 7 of 12 3s and15 of 18 free throws, and posted only three first-half turnovers. REUTERS

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.