The Cleveland Charge won their first meeting of a back-to-back against the Miami Heat’s Sioux Fall Sky Force. The Charge were propelled to a 126-111 victory thanks to an impressive 34 point and 12 assist performance from Sharife Cooper.
Cooper put the game away as the Skyforce were making a fourth quarter comeback. He provided 19 points in the fourth quarter and iced the game away by splitting a double team and rising up for an impressive game ending dunk.
“That’s probably the first time I did that, so that was exciting,” said Cooper when asked about his closing dunk afterwards. “I seen them come on the screen. He [Nate Hinton] was suppose to slip out. His man was running out to me so I figured I could split it and got an open lane. I don’t know why I tried dunking it, but it worked out.”
Cooper also finished with a season high 12 assists with just 2 turnovers. Finding ways to protect the ball while getting teammates involved is something that Cooper has been working on.
“Sometimes turnovers are inevitable,” says Cooper. “It’s my job to protect the ball. I take extreme pride in that. I have been turning it over more than I’d like. To come out here today and have a lot of assists with 2 turnovers is a step in the right direction. I wish I had back those 2 turnovers back.”
Isaiah Mobley had one of his more impressive offensive outing of the season finishing with 24 points on 8 of 14 shooting with 11 boards, 2 steals and a block. This was the most comfortable he looked handling the ball and pushing in transition. This resulted in Euro step transition layups and being able to drive to the basket from the top of the key off of pump fakes. These are things that he’s shown before in flashes, but this was the most consistent he was able to show off those skills.
Pushing in transition opened up playmaking opportunities for Mobley. The finishing ability he showed in space caused the defense to collapse to the basket whenever he pushed. This created open looks for shooters in semi-transition which helped him pick up 4 assists.
The defensive end wasn’t as clean. Mobley’s primary assignment was Heat two-way center Orlando Robinson. The seven footer was able to push his way to his spots and score efficiently. en route to 22 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
Defending centers is an issue that has popped up more than a few times already this season. Like his brother Evan, center is not necessarily his most ideal defensive position at this point of his career.
While containing Robinson was an issue, Mobley more than made up for it on the other end. The rookie converted multiple times in the post and half court pick-and-roll with Cooper. Mobley is still more comfortable attacking traditional centers than he is shorter, quicker forwards.
“He’s a good player,” said Cooper when asked about his and Mobley’s chemistry in the pick-and-roll. “It’s easy to play with guys who know how to play. Have played at high levels. He makes my life easier. Having good players around you makes it fun and easy to play.”
Mamadi Diakite, though giving up height, faired much better defensively against Robinson. Diakite length and strength made Robinson work a bit harder to get to his spots. This resulted in 4 blocks on Robinson.
Diakite made a concerted effort to take threes as he connected on 3 of his 7 attempts from deep. He added in 21 points on 9 of 16 shooting with 3 boards and 5 assists.
Diakite played 36 minutes in the win. Given Jarrett Allen is out for Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Diakite might be asked to provide spot minutes like he did Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons.
Bouncing back and forth between the NBA and G League is part of the life of a two-way contract player. “I’ve been on a two-way I know how tough it is to go back and forth,” said Cooper who was on a two-way deal with the Atlanta Hawks last season. “It’s easy to not feel as involved as to what’s going on down here because you’re up there. It’s a tough situation.”
Up next: Diakite and Mobley will likely be back up with the Cleveland Cavaliers for their meeting against the Sixers on Wednesday. The Charge will also be back in action against the Skyforce just a few blocks over from the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.