The Cleveland Charge were able to pull out a narrow 109-107 win over the Windy City Bulls in a game that featured 9 lead changes,
The Charge found themselves up 11 with 40 seconds to go. Like their parent organization, the Charge had trouble holding a double digit lead and allowed the Bulls to cut the lead to two. Windy City had a chance to tie the game with 12 seconds left. Isaiah Mobley put a good contest on what would’ve been a game tying layup, grabbed the rebound and knocked down one of two free throws to give the Charge a three-point lead. Kostas Antetokounmpo responded with a layup to trim the deficit to one before Sharifie Cooper iced the game away at the line.
Jamorko Pickett and Cooper were the Charge’s leading scorers with 28 points apiece. Pickett connected on 6 of his 12 triples while grabbing 10 boards. Cooper finished 9-12 from the field with 9 assists and 4 turnovers. Mobley contributed 24 points on 6-12 shooting with 11 boards including 4 on the offensive end while adding in 4 assists.
The story of the game was the battle of the brothers. There was something surreal about seeing siblings of NBA stars fight it out in a near empty college gym repurposed for the G League. The two who are more known for their similarities with their brothers traded baskets down the stretch.
Mobley and Antetokounmpo spent the majority of the fourth as each other’s primary assignment after not spending much of the opening three quarters matched up. Mobley won the head-to-head contest down the stretch as he outscored Antetokounmpo 7 to 6 in the final frame while grabbing 6 big rebounds. Kostas finished the evening with 21 points on 8-8 shooting with 9 boards and 2 assists.
“It’s similar because we’re both brothers,” said Isaiah afterwards when asked about the similarities between his and Kostas’s situations. “I feel like it’s a little different though. We’re not in the same place in our careers. Our roles on our teams are different. He’s [Kostas] a good, promising player. Also, Giannis might have a little more clout than Evan,” Isaiah remarks with a smirk.
“Isaiah was that calming presence. He made some big shots that got us back into the game,” said head coach Mike Gerrity afterwards when asked about Mobley’s performance. “I let him go a few more minutes than I usually do because he had it going.”
The increased confidence in the three-ball has been noticeable. Mobley knocked down two threes again tonight. One of which was off-the-dribble.
Gerritty laughed after the game when asked about Mobley’s increased willingness to dribble back out for threes. “He’s got a lot of confidence and belief in himself. It’s one of those things that I love about him. He puts in the work everyday, embraced the situation, and has gotten a whole lot better.”
“I’ve always been comfortable with it,” said Mobley when asked about his recent increase in outside shooting. “I’m starting to get a rhythm out here. Teams have been playing me short. I’ve been knocking it down of late. They’re gonna have to honor it or I’m just gonna keep shooting them.”
Mobley has also been given more responsibility with the ball in his hands as a playmaker the last few games. Whether it’s pushing it off of rebounds or bringing the ball up after made baskets, the difference is noticeable.
“It opens up the game a lot,” said Mobley when asked about pushing in transition. “It allows people to get to the corner. Allows us to push the tempo faster and put pressure on the defense. Even if I don’t get anything out of it going to the basket, it still puts the defense on their heels a little bit. We get an advantage out of it. Mike G. allows me to do it, likes when I do it.”
This has created opportunities to get others involved while showcasing Mobley’s playmaking ability which featured two behind the back passes to teammates. “I always like to pass but now my role is to just score. I feel like I have the abilities to do both. Early in the post they’re sending doubles, and I haven’t seen a double for like eight years. I knew that pass was there. Some of my teammates were surprised as well. Like Nate [Hinton]. He didn’t catch it. Passing is honestly one of my biggest skills. I just haven’t been in a position to really make those dime like passes.”
Although he didn’t admit it, the desire to pass could be traced back to his recent experiences playing with Ricky Rubio after Cavaliers’ practices. “He looks good,” said Mobley when asked about Rubio’s progress. “I love taking stuff from his game. I’ve seen him pass for years. Even in those three-on-threes I got to see stuff that I haven’t seen before. It’s super cool as a basketball fan and as a teammate seeing him develop and get closer and closer to coming back.”
Speaking of the Cavs, they will be looking to stop Anthony Davis tomorrow night as the Los Angeles Lakers come to town. Evan Mobley may be tasked with the responsibility of doing that.
“Don’t be afraid, said Isaiah when asked about advice he’d give his brother. “You know what he’s [Davis] coming off of. Take the challenge. Want that challenge. I’m excited for the Cavs and I’m excited for him as a brother and fan of the game to see this matchup.”
We’ll see if Evan and the Cavs are up to that challenge tomorrow night.
Up next: The Charge will be back in action Wednesday as they welcome the Fort Wayne Mad Ants to town.