The Cleveland Charge defeated the Detroit Pistons’ Motor City Cruise in a 114-111 back and forth affair. This was a defensive struggle throughout with nothing coming easy in the paint. The defining play of the game was the Charge forcing a five second violation with 13.6 seconds left after an offensive foul was called on Sharife Cooper in a tie game. The Charge weren’t able to capitalize on this in the final possession leading to overtime.
The G League is experimenting with the Elam Ending this season which means the first to seven points wins. The Charge found themselves down 5 to 4 going into the last possession. Sam Merrill hit the game winning three after coming off a screen from Isaiah Mobley.
“Sam was struggling from three but we believed in him like we believe in all of our guys,” said Mobley afterwards. “Once they switched I thought we’d get a good look. Once he released it looked good, but I came crashing because when Sharife missed the layup in regulation I probably could’ve crashed and gotten it. So if he misses it I’ll be here to clean it up. But fortunately he knocked it down so it didn’t matter.”
This was the first G League game to go to the Elam Ending. There’s at least one fan of the new format. “I like the format,” said Mobley. “I don’t know about seven points. It was cool and interesting! No time, just the shot clock, playing to seven, it’s like old school basketball. I kind of like it. The only thing to figure out is the amount of points.”
Cooper led the scoring for the Charge finishing with 28 points and 4 assists on 9 of 20 shooting. Jamorko Picket provided 21 points on 6 of 15 shooting with 12 boards.
Mobley had a strong first quarter as he put up seven points in the opening frame with a rebound. Mobley’s most impressive basket was his drive from the top of the arc after pump faking the three. He followed that up with a post up-and-under and-one two possessions later.
The second quarter proved to be a little bit of an adjustment for the elder Mobley. The Charge came out with an emphasis on on getting him the ball in the post. Recognizing this, the Cruise packed the paint and doubled Mobley when he put it on the floor. This led to some indecision and three traveling violations in the first half. All of which came after picking up his dribble and gathering in the paint.
“[Coach] Mike G. told me that they weren’t going to keep calling that,” said Mobley when asked about it afterwards. “It’s a point of emphasis. I’ve studied the point of emphasis so I don’t get called for a travel, but it’s just part of the game. It’s just a process to figure it out.”
Mobley’s IQ is one of the things that teammates and coaches readily mention when you bring his name up. We saw that on display some in the third quarter as he bounced back from a rough ending to the first half. Mobley found himself in a mismatch with a guard on him after a Cooper offensive rebound. Cooper quickly spotted the mismatch, got him the ball and promptly cleared out the strong side to prevent Motor City from getting a switch. The weakside baseline help defender dug from the baseline corner to the paint. Mobley pump-faked a pass to the corner to keep the defender in no man’s land in the paint leading which led to a three-second violation. Mobley then finished a dunk off a Cooper pick-and-roll leading to a three point possession. Plays like this won’t show up in the box score, but is one of the things Isaiah brings to the table.
“I’ve seen doubles since I’ve been in highschool, especially with smaller guys,” said the rookie when asked about that play afterwards. “Sometimes you get suckered into a weakside block. You can freeze the defense with ball fakes and things like that. And if they come all the way before I load up we can probably get a three out of that. I feel very comfortable with double teams and teams loading up.”
The fourth quarter didn’t get off to the start he would’ve wanted. He picked up two off-ball fouls after missed Cruise shots. The second led to a quick technical as well. The two fouls and especially the technical were questionable calls, but they do highlight how Mobley can sometimes struggle for position while rebounding.
Mobley bounced back in the final 5 minutes of the fourth and in overtime. He provided a key bucket in the extra frame and solid defense down the stretch which led to a win. Overall it was a solid debut for Mobley who finished with 17 points on 7 of 15 shooting with 6 boards, an assist and 3 turnovers.
“I’d give myself a B,” said Mobley when asked to grade his first G League performance. “There were some fouls and turnovers that I didn’t like. It was a good experience. I’m a rookie, this is my first real minutes in a pro game. I’m happy with my performance and I was happy we got the dub.”
Overcoming adversity was the thing that stood out about Mobley’s debut to head coach Mike Gerrity, “There’s going to be calls guys aren’t going to be thrilled about and he recovered making big plays down the stretch for us. I was really happy with his resiliency and ability to keep it together even when things weren’t going his way.”
Up next: The Charge will be back in action Wednesday November 4th when they travel to take on the Milwaukee Bucks affiliated Wisconsin Herd. Tip-off is at 7 PM.