Donovan Mitchell continues his reunion tour of California when his new team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, makes a stop in the state capital to duel the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
Having played his first five seasons with the Utah Jazz, while making three All-Star teams, Mitchell is making his first Western Conference swing since being dealt in September to the Cavaliers for three players and three future first-round draft picks.
The 26-year-old has lived up to the huge price so far, averaging 31.2 points per game — fourth-best in the NBA — while scoring 30 or more points seven times in his nine games.
His sixth and seventh of those 30-point outings came in a two-day stop in Los Angeles on Sunday and Monday, where he had 33 in a 114-100 win over the Lakers and 30 in a 119-117 loss to the Clippers.
After Wednesday’s performance in Sacramento, the Cavs will complete their California swing at Golden State on Friday.
Getting plenty of support from Darius Garland (19.0 points per game), Jarrett Allen (13.5 points, 12.2 rebounds) and Evan Mobley (15.2 points, 1.6 blocks), Mitchell has led the Cavaliers to an 8-2 record, the second-best mark in the NBA behind Milwaukee’s 9-1.
The Cavaliers had won eight in a row before Monday’s narrow defeat at the hands of the Clippers. There are still lessons being learned early in the season as coach J.B. Bickerstaff watched his team blow a 13-point, fourth-quarter lead.
“We had the game where we wanted it, but we just didn’t close it out,” Bickerstaff said. “This is a game we should have won.”
The Kings walked off the Golden State court in San Francisco on Monday also believing they let one get away. Or at least it was one that should have gone into overtime.
Down 116-113 with 1.3 seconds left and inbounding in the frontcourt after a timeout, the Kings thought they saw Kevin Huerter get hacked by Klay Thompson on a 34-foot, 3-point attempt that was badly off the mark.
Afterward, new Kings coach Mike Brown blamed the no-call in part on the lack of respect the Sacramento franchise gets after having been an NBA nonentity for the better part of two decades.
“I just want, at the end of the game, somebody to step up and make the right call,” Brown said. “A guy gets hit on the arm shooting a 3; it’s a foul.
“I do feel bad for the guys. It’s tough being a Sacramento King.”
Earlier, the Kings had put themselves in a position to win for the fourth time in five games, running out to as many as a 12-point lead.
Sacramento had defeated the Cavaliers five in a row before a 2-0 Cleveland sweep last season.
The Kings haven’t fared nearly as well against Mitchell, whose Jazz teams went 12-2 against Sacramento in games he played. Mitchell scored 22 or more points in 13 of those 14 head-to-heads, with a high of 42 in a home win in April 2021.
–Field Level Media