The Cleveland Cavaliers’ lost their first game for the 2021-22 season. But they shouldn’t feel too bad about it.
In a 132-121 loss, the Cavs could have played better. There were multiple runs by Memphis — often fueled by Ja Morant, who had a game-high 37 points — that pushed Cleveland’s deficit to double-digits. There were some missed opportunities near the rim and the 17-rebound disadvantage that the Grizzlies used to jump start their own offense.
But the Cavs grinding their way back into the game, cutting the Grizzlies’ lead to 1 with 2:33 to go in the fourth quarter. But they couldn’t quite get over the hump, with Memphis going on a run in response to wrap up the game.
Evan Mobley had 19 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in his first NBA game. Jarrett Allen led the Cavs with 25 points to go with 4 rebounds and 3 steals, while Darius Garland finished with 13 points and 12 assists. Collin Sexton added 17 points.
For the Cavs, Mobley’’s debut was the highlight. He showcased the two-way potential that makes him such an interesting prospect and looked comfortable from the opening tip. He also made a three-pointer — something that remains a question mark about his game — and looked smooth in making it from the corner. There will be ups and downs because he’s a rookie. But the Cavs couldn’t have asked for a better start.
Up next: The Cavs have their home opener on Friday when they host the Charlotte Hornets. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. EST.