Jarrett Allen and the Cleveland Cavaliers are counting down the days until Donovan Mitchell returns from a longer-than-expected illness absence for a club that is already depleted beyond the star guard.
The Cavs are also finding ways to win.
Caris LeVert scored 29 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter, as Cleveland recovered from a 20-point first-half deficit to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 113-110 on Wednesday night.
With 1:13 remaining, the Mavericks went five minutes without scoring, turning a nine-point advantage into a 111-105 defeat.
Allen finished with 24 points and 23 rebounds, one shy of his career high, and Isaac Okoro added 22 points as the Cavs advanced to 3-1 in the four games Mitchell has missed due to illness. During timeouts, he was on the bench in street clothes, talking up teammates.
Cleveland is also without its Nos. 2 and 3 scorers, Darius Garland (broken jaw) and Evan Mobley (knee surgery). Despite this, the Cavs have gone 5-1 since a three-game losing streak.
“It’s a big lift for us,” added Allen. “We’re looking forward to holding down the fort until we’re able to get healthy again.” This team cannot be dismissed. We’re going to go into every game and give it our all.”
Dallas’ Luka Doncic scored 39 points for the 14th time in 15 games, including nine in the ten games All-Star sidekick Kyrie Irving has been out with a right heel injury.
With Irving out, the Mavericks rested Doncic for nearly six minutes longer than usual to begin the fourth, but they couldn’t score until the four-time All-Star returned. Cleveland’s 15-0 run for the lead began as soon as Doncic returned.
LeVert, Allen, and Max Strus all scored at the basket until a two-minute scoreless streak for both sides ended with two free throws from LeVert, who scored 15 points in the fourth quarter after missing the previous game due to a knee injury.
Dallas’ Seth Curry had a season-high 19 points, but he and Doncic combined to go 2 of 11 from the field in the fourth quarter.
“We got some good looks,” said coach Jason Kidd. “We simply did not make them.” Luka had good looks. Curry had good looks. Everyone had a unique appearance. They simply did not go down for us.”
The Mavericks trailed by six points with 21 seconds remaining but had a chance to tie on the final possession after Georges Niang missed two free throws with eight seconds left.
After catching the inbound pass, Cleveland corralled Doncic near midcourt, and Curry’s desperation 3 at the buzzer was denied by Strus.
“We’ve got to get stops, and at the end, we didn’t get the look we wanted,” Kidd went on to say. “We’ve got to be better late game.”
Craig Porter Jr. had nine points and 12 rebounds, while Niang had 16 points.
Allen recorded 20 more points and 19 more rebounds than Dallas rookie Dereck Lively II. In addition, the seven-year veteran had six assists, one less than his season high.
“He’s unyielding. Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff was impressed. “It was a refusal to let us fail in so many ways.” We asked him to do so many defensive things out there. Then we put the ball in his hands offensively and let him make the appropriate basketball play.”
After missing 12 games due to a right elbow sprain, Josh Green returned for Dallas, scoring two points and dishing out five assists in 21 minutes.