Wire to wire, the Cleveland Charge didn’t let up against the Grand Rapids Gold, but it wasn’t enough as they lost their first regular season game 108-104. Tonight’s game was also the most-attended game in Charge history after the team moved up to Cleveland from Canton two years ago.
Grand Rapids made things interesting in the second half, outscoring Cleveland after halftime. They were able to go on a serious run in the second half and started to run the Charge off the floor. Denver Nuggets rookie Peyton Watson wreaked the most havoc, scoring 29 points in a myriad of ways on the floor.
Both Cleveland Cavaliers two-way players Isaiah Mobley and Mamadi Diakite were available tonight for the Charge. Mobley, who was named to the NBA G League Showcase All-Cup Team in Vegas, had 25 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists. Diakite, meanwhile, had 28 points, 9 rebounds as well as 3 blocked shot attempts. It’s worth noting that after a Grand Rapids miss, Diakite was moving down the floor with a bit of a limp but was able to shake it off. Nothing seems serious at this time but, again, it’s worth watching.
The duo of Mobley and Diakite were key at times in the second half on the defensive side of the ball. The duo stymied the Gold’s offensive attack both on the interior and on the perimeter. If either player wants to stick with the Cavaliers on a long-term basis, being able to defend all over the floor is paramount under head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
Other Charge notables include G League star Sharife Cooper, who finished the night with 20 points and 9 assists. There was also Brazilian forward Didi Louzada, who chipped in 5 points off the bench for Cleveland as well. Cleveland State legend and former two-time NBA Champion Norris Cole, meanwhile, made an appearance for Grand Rapids and got a standing ovation from those in attendance at the Wolstein Center, which Cole called home for several seasons.
This loss for the Charge is tough after their frustrating loss to the Windy City Bulls, the G League affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, in the semifinals of the NBA G League Winter Showcase Cup Tournament 96-94. But, considering how much fight Cleveland showed down the stretch, it’s still a strong indication that the team will be alright. Considering how much the Charge struggled at times last season, it appears first-year coach Mike Gerrity is earning his stripes and proving his chops as a head coach.
“That’s what we’ve expected of Mike,” said J.B. Bickerstaff earlier in the day. “That’s why we gave him the opportunity to have the job. We know his approach and how prepared he is. His ability to relate to players and that type of stuff. His ability to carry out assignments like we’ve watched him do. So, we knew that by giving him this opportunity, he would be successful.”
Instead of playing for a spot in the NBA G League Winter Showcase Cup Tournament, the Charge are now shifting focus towards something bigger: an NBA G League Championship. Securing your first win out of a total 32 games would’ve been a great way to kick things off but, Cleveland still has a ways to go in order to get there. But, based on how things looked against a good Grand Rapid squad, the Charge are plugging themselves in to go the distance.
Up next: The Charge head out on the road to open up 2023 against the West Chester Knicks, the NBA G League affiliate of the New York Knicks, in the first game of a back-to-back.