The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell looks to work his magic on the visiting Sacramento Kings for the second time this season when the teams meet again Friday night.
Traded from the Utah Jazz to the Cavaliers in the offseason, Mitchell returned to Sacramento early last month to face his old Western Conference foe and dropped 38 points on the Kings, in a number that matches his third-biggest total of the season.
They weren’t enough as seven Kings ganged up on the former Jazz star with 14 or more points apiece in a 127-120 victory.
Mitchell has seemingly enjoyed keeping in touch with his old Western Conference friends. He had a season-best 43 points when the Los Angeles Lakers came to town Tuesday, a game Cleveland won 116-102.
Mitchell also had 33 points in an earlier road game against the Lakers, and has delivered 34 points against the Portland Trail Blazers, 30 against the Los Angeles Clippers and 29 against the Golden State Warriors. That’s an average of 34.5 points in his first six games this season against Western foes.
It has put an interesting twist on the start of the second chapter of his career, after he ended last season with a 25.9 scoring average and six-game exit at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.
“This is not a shot at my guys in Utah,” Mitchell said earlier this week, “but I’m having fun again.”
So are the Cavaliers. They have won seven straight games at home on the eve of a back-to-back in which the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town on Saturday.
The Kings, meanwhile, have lost three of their last four road games, but had to be encouraged by their effort Wednesday at Milwaukee, where they stayed in the game against the Bucks until the closing minutes in a 126-113 defeat.
There was nothing to crow about defensively in the defeat, according to Kings coach Mike Brown, after watching Milwaukee shoot 47.9 percent overall and 42.4 percent on 3-pointers.
“I didn’t think they felt us at all defensively,” Brown said. “Our defense was almost a glorified scrimmage game, a pick-up game. Milwaukee went where they wanted to go, they did what they wanted to do.”
A second straight game against a Central Division teams means another reunion of sorts for Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis, who faced the Bucks and Cavaliers four times a season apiece while with the Indiana Pacers. He was dealt to the Kings last February.
In his return to Milwaukee since the trade on Wednesday, Sabonis was up to his old double-double tricks, with 23 points and 12 rebounds. He also found time for seven assists.
In 19 career games against the Cavaliers, including last month’s meeting at Sacramento when he put up 21 points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals, he’s had 20 or more points four times, 10 or more rebounds 10 times and nine double-doubles. He’s twice missed triple-doubles by one assist.
Sabonis has a 13-6 lifetime record against the Cavaliers. Mitchell has gone 12-3 against the Kings.
–Field Level Media