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Isaiah Mobley’s 34 points weren’t enough as Cleveland Charge’s season ends to the Long Island Nets

The Charge fall 111-107 in the second round of the playoffs.

2023 NBA G League Playoffs - Cleveland Charge v Long Island Nets Photo by Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cleveland Charge have been playing the last two and a half weeks like it was a single elimination playoff.

After dropping three consecutive games, which included brutal losses to the Ontario Clippers, the Charge needed to win their final four regular season games to even make the playoffs. They started that streak off with an improbable 24-point comeback victory over these same Long Island Nets on March 17.

Cleveland once again found themselves trailing by double digits against Long Island. This time, by 26 in the third before storming back. Like last time, Isaiah Mobley was the catalyst who got things going.

Mobley was the best player on the floor Friday afternoon as he finished with a career high 34 points on 14-21 shooting with 4 assists.

The rookie provided those offensive numbers while being the only true forward in the starting lineup with Dylan Windler and Jamarko Pickett being out with injuries and Mamadi Diakite not being with the team. This forced Mobley into being the entire backline of an undersized defense.

Mobley was up to the challenge on the defensive end as he grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked 2 shots. He kept Long Island off the glass limiting them to just 5 offensive rebounds and just 6 second-chance points. He came out of the gates firing as he put up 13 of the team’s 25 points in the first quarter on 6-7 shooting. This hot start forced the Nets to double whenever he got the ball into the post.

Long Island forced Charge players outside of Mobley to beat them in the second quarter and they simply couldn’t do it. Cleveland’s two other best available offensive players weren’t up for the challenge as Sam Merrill and Sharife Cooper combined for just 2 points in the second quarter. In the first half, the duo contributed just 7 points on 1-14 shooting.

Long Island turned empty possessions from Cleveland into points on the other end. The Nets won the second quarter 37-20 while shooting 63.6% from the field compared to the Charge’s 28.6%.

The Nets opened the third with a 7-0 run to stretch their already large lead to 26. The Charge fought back to trim the deficit to 16 heading into the final frame.

Cooper has been Mr. Fourth Quarter for the Charge all season. He showed why as he exploded for 10 points and one assist in a two and a half minute stretch to trim the deficit to 12.

Mobley took over from there as he poured in 5 quick points capped off by knocking down a three-pointer he was fouled on to bring the deficit to three with just under four minutes to play.

The Charge trimmed the lead to one on the ensuing possession, but were never able to tie or take the lead. The Nets were able to answer on the other end with Chris Chiozza knocking down a tough, contested three to bring the lead back to six a few minutes later.

Cleveland once again fought back as Cooper brought the deficit to two with a floater at the 57 second mark. He, however, wasn’t able to convert on the following two attempts. This included missing an uncontested layup while down three with under 10 second remaining sealing Cleveland’s fate

Cooper contributed 22 points, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter, on 7-23 shooting with 7 assists. Chandler Vaudrin’s was the team’s third-leading scorer as he provided a season-high 16 points off the bench.

The Charge survived the first round due to even contributions from their starters. That simply didn’t happen on Friday. Merrill, who led the team with 28 against the Maine Celtics, registered just 7 points on 3-14 shooting which included going 1-10 from distance. Nate Hinton, who scored 22 in the previous game, contributed just 9 points against the Nets. Cleveland was held to just 7-31 shooting (22.6%) from distance in the loss.

This was still a successful season for the Charge. They finished the campaign with a 30-20 record combined over the Showcase and regular season. They advanced to the semi-finals of the Showcase earlier this season and won their first playoff game since 2016.

More importantly, several players showed that they could develop into significant pieces at the next level. Sharife Cooper garnered multiple player of the month awards, Sam Merrill received an NBA contract and Isaiah Mobley proved that he isn’t in Cleveland just because his brother is a burgeoning superstar.

The Charge weren’t able to reach their ultimate goal, but this was a step in the right direction.