Cavaliers 128, Grizzlies 113
Donovan Mitchell took his most vicious shots at Dillon Brooks after the game.
Accusing Brooks of being a dirty player, Mitchell said the NBA needs to do something about the Memphis guard's unruly bad behavior after he smashed Cleveland's All-Star guard in the groin during the Cavaliers' 128-113 victory over the Grizzlies on Thursday night.
“That’s just who he is,” said Mitchell, who was ejected in the third quarter for throwing the ball at Brooks. "We’ve seen it a bunch in this league with him. Him and I have had our personal battles for years.
“There’s no place for that in the game. This has been brewing for years with me and other guys in the league. You all see it. This isn’t new.”
Darius Garland scored 32 points shortly after being left off the All-Star team and carried Cleveland following Mitchell's ejection as the Cavs handed the Grizzlies their seventh loss in eight games.
Garland was one of several players having All-Star-caliber seasons who was not named an Eastern Conference reserve by the coaches. He added 11 assists as the Cavs bounced back from a tough loss to Miami on Tuesday night.
“He was brilliant,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “He knew how important this game was to us and what we needed from him. That’s what leaders do.”
Mitchell, voted an All-Star starter last week, was tossed in the third quarter for throwing the ball at Brooks after the pair tangled under the basket. Brooks also was thrown out.
With the Cavs leading 81-76, Brooks missed a shot and fell in the lane. While on the floor, he flung his arm back and struck Mitchell, who was standing over him, in the groin area. Mitchell dropped in pain and retaliated by firing the ball at Brooks and then charging and shoving him along the baseline in front of the Memphis bench.
As the altercation threatened to spill into the seats, officials and players were able to get things under control before any punches were thrown.
It's possible the league could punish Brooks further, and Mitchell believes additional penalties are warranted.
“There should be something,” he said. "This isn’t just a Donovan thing. This has happened to other players throughout this league, and it’s complete (expletive). Those guys talk (junk) and that’s fine, that’s all a part of basketball. We all grew up playing that way.
"But when you start doing cheap (stuff), that ain’t it. That’s where my frustration lies. It’s not about talking back and forth. That’s cool, but when you start doing little stuff like that.”
Bickerstaff felt Mitchell, who said he has had previous run-ins with Brooks, had every right to defend himself.
“That was a cheap shot in multiple ways,” he said. "A guy should have the right to stand up for himself. I thought Donovan did that. I’m proud of our guys. We don’t have those guys that start (expletive)t, but we have guys who don’t run from (expletive) shit and you have to in this league.
"You have to stand up for yourself. That’s what he did and his teammates had his back.”
Brooks refused to discuss the altercation with Mitchell in any detail. When he was asked about the exchange, Memphis All-Star Ja Morant stepped in and said the Grizzlies would not talk about the incident.
Brooks did say he agreed with the flagrant-2 call.
“It saved me some T’s (technicals),” he said.
The Grizzlies have a reputation as the NBA’s most talkative team, but Morant believes they're being unfairly judged.
“Anything when it comes to negative about the Grizzlies, we normally, you know, get the punishment," Morant said. "It ain’t the same. They (the NBA) hate us.”
While Mitchell said he and Brooks have a long history, Morant denied the Grizzlies having any issues with the four-time All-Star.
“We don’t got no history with nobody,” Morant said. "We don’t beef with nobody.”
Cedi Osman scored 21 points and Jarrett Allen added 18 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland.
Evan Mobley had 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Desmond Bane scored 25 points and Morant had 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for Grizzlies despite being in foul trouble most of the night.
Memphis played without All-Star forward Jaren Jackson Jr., who sustained a thigh bruise in Tuesday night in a loss to Portland.
Lakers 112, Pacers 111
LeBron James had 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and pulled within 63 points of becoming the NBA’s career scoring leader as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied to beat the Indiana Pacers 112-111 on Thursday night.
James has 38,325 points, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holding the record at 38,387.
James gave Los Angeles its first lead on a 3-pointer with 2:35 left, and Anthony Davis’ 11-footer with 35.1 seconds left was the decisive basket. Davis had 31 points and 14 rebounds.
Aaron Nesmith scored a career-high 24 points for Indiana, with Buddy Hield’s 17-foot jumper clanking off the rim in the closing seconds.
Mavericks 111, Pelicans 106
Luka Doncic scored 31 points before leaving with a right heel injury, and Dallas Mavericks on without their All-Star to hand travel-weary New Orleans its 10th consecutive loss.
Doncic stayed in the game after taking a hard fall in the third quarter when he was winding up for a one-handed dunk on a drive and Brandon Ingram knocked the ball out of his hand as Doncic was bumped by Jonas Valanciunas.
Ingram was called for a foul, and New Orleans successfully challenged. Doncic returned after the break for the review, but after one trip down the court, the 23-year-old star screamed in frustration as he limped to the locker room without looking at the Dallas bench.
The Mavericks were up by 27 points when Doncic exited with 6:47 remaining in the third, and the lead was all the way down to four when Herbert Jones hit a layup with 58 seconds left in the game. Ingram scored 26 points.
Nuggets 134, Warriors 117
Jamal Murray scored 33 points and Nikola Jokic had his 17th triple-double of the season, leading Denver past short-handed Golden State.
Jokic finished with 22 points, 16 assists and 14 rebounds. He had a triple-double by the midway mark of the third quarter as the Nuggets remain unbeaten this season when he reaches the plateau.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 18 points for the Western Conference-leading Nuggets. They improved to 24-4 at home.
Stephen Curry had 28 points for Golden State.
Bulls 114, Hornets 98
Ayo Dosunmu matched a season high with 22 points, Coby White scored 20 points and Chicago overcame shaky outings by DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine to beat Charlotte.
Dosunmu made 9 of 10 shots, and White hit three 3-pointers. Nikola Vucevic added 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Andre Drummond had 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Bulls used a big third quarter to turn a four-point halftime lead into an 85-70 advantage heading to the fourth.
Terry Rozier scored 23 points for Charlotte. LaMelo Ball, coming off a triple-double Tuesday night in a loss at Milwaukee, added 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists before getting ejected with 1:21 remaining.
Bucks 106, Clippers 105
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 20 of his 54 points in the fourth quarter and Milwaukee overcame a 21-point deficit to beat Los Angeles for its sixth consecutive victory.
Antetokounmpo also had 18 rebounds. The Greek star reached the 50-point mark for the third time in his last 11 games. He had a career-high 55 on Jan. 3 against Washington and scored 50 in only 30 minutes Sunday against New Orleans.
Norman Powell scored 26 points to lead Los Angeles. The Clippers lost for the second time in eight games and failed to capitalize on a couple of Milwaukee turnovers in the closing seconds.