'We always tell Evan he's the man, he's him' - Cavaliers PG Garland lauds Mobley after win
Darius Garland was the game's top scorer as his Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Charlotte Hornets 132-122 in double-overtime, but he was more impressed with the work of his young teammate Evan Mobley.
Standing at seven-feet tall, the USC product has shown the ability to guard all five positions, showing at a young age that he can switch onto shifty point guards and hold up stoutly, putting him in rare company with the likes of all-time great defenders Kevin Garnett and Anthony Davis.
In an action-packed game, the Hornets incredibly came back from a 10-point deficit with only 45 seconds remaining in regulation, with three-pointers from P.J. Washington, Kelly Oubre Jr and two from Terry Rozier, including a game-tying bomb with one second on the clock.
That forced overtime, where it was the Cavs' turn to save the game. A potential game-tying three from Donovan Mitchell clanked off the rim, but Mobley was there for the offensive rebound, kicking it out for Garland to tie it.
The Hornets then had a chance to win it with the last shot of the extra period, getting Rozier one-on-one with Mobley, but the young Cavs star held firm and forced double-overtime.
Their defense would lift in the second extra period, holding Charlotte to just two points to seal the win.
Garland top-scored with 41 points on 16-of-26 shooting, adding five steals, but the post-game press conference centered on the brilliance of Mobley, who finished with 21 points (nine-of-14), 18 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal.
"Evan was kind of angry tonight – I loved it," Garland said. "We always tell Evan he's the man, he's him. So I want him to start acting like it, keeping that same fire and same energy.
"He had a huge game tonight, he helped us offensively and defensively, came up with some big rebounds, and he switched onto [Terry] Rozier on that big possession in overtime.
"You don't usually see a seven-footer out there guarding a guard like that, either. He's special, we really need him, and we're happy to have him.
"I feel comfortable with Evan guarding anybody, literally. He moves his feet really well, and he keeps his distance because he's so long.
"I think Evan can guard anybody in this league if he puts his mind to it, and that's what we do. We switch three-through-five, and he guards some threes, some fives. That's what he's here for."
While he is currently a supporting piece on the offensive end, Mobley was urged by his All-Star point guard to try to dominate on that end the same way he does defensively.
"I want him to take more shots," he said. "His one-on-one game is really, really good for his size, and he can get to any shot that he wants to.
"I mean 14 [shot attempts] is a good number, but I think he should take a lot more, in my opinion. I want him to be more aggressive, I want him to really ask for the ball – tell me to give him the ball.
"He's going to get there, he's building his confidence every day."
When asked about his comfort level when getting pulled away from the basket in isolation situations, Mobley said he thrives in it.
"I'm real comfortable [against smaller guards], honestly," he said. "I feel like I have good enough size, and I'm also quick enough to stay in front, so any shot they really take, I'm going to be there.
"I knew [Rozier] likes step-backs, so I was just giving him a good amount of space, using my length. I knew I could slide my feet – I'm pretty fast – so I was just using my length, and when he shot it, just get a good contest."
The win snaps a five-game losing streak for the Cavs, bringing their record to 9-6, and 5-1 at home.