The Cleveland Charge won their eighth straight with a 111-107 win over the Washington Wizards’ G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go.
The Charge came out uncharacteristically slow and found themselves down double-digits midway through the second quarter. They had a tough time establishing any consistent offense outside of their big men Mamadi Diakite and Isaiah Mobley while compiling 11 first-half turnovers.
“They’re a very physical team,” said starting shooting guard Sam Merrill afterwards about the Go-Go. “They’re one of the better defensive teams. I don’t want to say it caught us off-guard, but it’s been a while since we played a team like that with that kind of physicality. Obviously, we answered in a big, big way.”
That answer happened in the third when Coach Mike Gerrity inserted a third big in Jamarko Pickett into the mix. The five man unit of Sharife Cooper, Nate Hinton, Pickett, Mobley and Diakite went on a 10-0 run at the end of the half to grab a one-point lead at the break. The run culminated in an impressive Cooper to Mobley fastbreak alley-oop.
Dunk of the year.#ChargeUp pic.twitter.com/J9LweDfkeD— Cleveland Charge (@ChargeCLE) January 22, 2023
The Charge carried that energy from the end of the second into the third. Hinton and Merrill set the tempo in the third with 15 combined points. The Charge hit 6 of their 11 threes in the quarter en route to outscoring the Go-Go 36-20 in the third.
“We finished the second quarter really well. We knew what we needed to do to be successful. And just came out in the third quarter and did the same thing,” said Merrill afterwards. “Generally when you have a team that’s good in the half court, you want to get out in transition. We did that. Got stops, shared the ball and it was a lot easier to make shots.”
Cleveland took their foot off the gas in the fourth making this much closer than it needed to be. The Charge needed an impressive step-back three from Cooper and a contested push shot from Mobley to close out Capital City.
Mobley was once again the best player on the floor. Not to be completely outdone by his brother Evan’s 38 points on Saturday, Isaiah provided an efficient 26 points on 9-14 shooting and 2-4 from three to go along with 8 boards, an assist, a steal and a block.
#ChargeUp | @MobleyIsaiah pic.twitter.com/qFrMYfmv8E— Cleveland Charge (@ChargeCLE) January 22, 2023
The recent second-round pick continued to dominate both ends. He was able to get whatever he wanted on offense while continuing to extend his range beyond the three-point line. He continues to hunt looks from the outside and puts them up without hesitation. Most notably, Mobley attempted and missed a step-back three while being closely guarded by Go-Go forward Theo John. While it’s not a shot you’d necessarily want him to take at the next level, this is the setting for him to break out of his comfort zone.
While his shooting has been a point of emphasis, Mobley’s touch and feel for the game is what continues to impress most.
“Isaiah’s ability to handle the ball and touch around the basket [is impressive]. If you don’t have a point guard, he’s someone you can get minutes from with him facilitating the offense,” said Cavalier legend and Charge assistant Daniel “Booby” Gibson afterwards when asked about Mobley’s game. “I knew he could do a little bit of that, but it’s good to see him grow in that role all year for us.”
When asked about the next steps for the rookie he said, “I just want him to continue to improve his body. Get stronger. At the next level you’re going to be dealing with guards that are built and bigs that are even bigger. So by the time he gets that opportunity, he’ll be able to play through contact.”
Cooper’s performance also prompted praise from Gibson.
“Sharife’s incredible. The kid can do everything. The way he’s shot the ball this year has been big for him. I know he wanted to improve on his jump shot. The three ball is looking good.”
Cooper finished 1-4 from three, but the step-back three he hit in the closing moments all but sealed the win for Cleveland. He ended the afternoon with 22 points on 9-16 shooting with 9 assists and 6 turnovers.
Mamadi Diakite, in his first game with the Charge since Dec. 28 and first game action since Jan. 8 in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ blowout win of the Phoenix Suns, finished with 20 points on 8-13 shooting with with 5 boards, 2 assists and 3 turnovers.
Pickett also had a strong outing as he contributed 18 points and 6 rebounds on 4-8 shooting from deep.
Up next: The Charge have back-to-back contests against the College Park Skyhawks this week starting on Tuesday. Tip-off is 7 PM.