CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Evan Mobley had 26 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers scored 35 points off Charlotte turnovers to beat the Hornets for the second time in three days, 120-104 on Tuesday night.
Cedi Osman scored 24 points off the bench and Caris LeVert added 22 points and seven assists for the Cavaliers, who played without All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell (sprained finger) and center Jarrett Allen (eye contusion).
Darius Garland chipped in 19 points for the Cavaliers, who entered the game in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, 3 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers. The Cavs have won five of their last six games.
“We’re ready for that playoff basketball mindset,” said Cavaliers forward Lamar Stevens, who got the start at the 4 spot and finished with 11 points. “We are ready for whatever is up next. I think we are really connected and focusing on the details to get us to where we want to go and to make a big run later in the playoffs. So we need big games like this.”
Kelly Oubre Jr. had 28 points and Terry Rozier added 22 points and 10 assists for the Hornets, who have lost three straight and fell to 11-27 at home.
The Hornets never looked in sync offensively. Charlotte turned the ball over 22 times in all — many of those self-inflicted — while Cleveland had just nine turnovers leading to six points for the Hornets.
“There’s a reason why they’re the best defensive team in the NBA — they create a lot of turnovers, they’re physical, they have size,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “When you get behind, it’s hard to come back. We had 10 more (turnovers) in the second half. You’re just not going to win” playing that way.”
The Cavaliers needed to erase a 16-point second-half deficit on Sunday to beat the Hornets 114-108, getting 28 points from Garland.
They didn’t need a comeback Tuesday.
The Cavaliers jumped out to a 63-48 lead at halftime after scoring 25 points on 15 Charlotte turnovers, while only turning the ball over once themselves. The Cavs stretched the lead to 22 late in the third quarter, and at one point had outscored the Hornets 31-0 off turnovers.
“Understanding the value of every possession, that’s one of the things that we’ve been talking to the guys about is as the games become bigger, more critical, every possession matters,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Being able to get a shot on goal matters. When you have guys who can create, who can score, it’s important to put it up on the rim, at least give yourself a chance.”
Charlotte never challenged in the second half and Clifford subbed out his starters with four minutes to play and his team down by 19.
ALLEN IS DAY TO DAY
Allen missed his second straight game with a right eye contusion he sustained in Friday night’s loss to Miami, and the Cavaliers are taking things “day to day” with their 6-foot-9 center, Bickerstaff said.
“With Jarrett it is just a matter of how quickly it recovers,” Bickerstaff said. “With eyes it’s difficult to put a timetable on it.”
The 2022 NBA All-Star is in the midst of another strong season averaging 14.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 blocks per game while shooting 64.9% from the field.
Mitchell is expected to play Wednesday night versus Philadelphia as his absence was more about injury maintenance.
Cavaliers: Signed guard Sam Merrill to a multi-year contract on Tuesday. The 6-foot-4, 197-pound Merrill signed a 10-day contract with the team on March 3 and appeared in one game for the Cavaliers.
Hornets: Dennis Smith Jr. had a flying one-handed dunk over Dean Wade off a baseline drive late in the third quarter. ... Center Mark Williams missed his fourth straight game with a sprained thumb.
Cavaliers: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Hornets: Host Philadelphia on Friday night.