Cleveland Cavaliers take down Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic in overtime thriller

Cleveland Cavaliers' Lauri Markkanen (24) shoots against Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (15)...
Cleveland Cavaliers' Lauri Markkanen (24) shoots against Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (15) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 18, 2022, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)(Ron Schwane | AP)
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 10:20 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Cleveland Cavaliers rallied to beat Denver 119-116 in overtime Friday before a raucous crowd at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

The Cavs trailed 114-109 in OT but ended the game on a 10-2 run.

“Heart. That was it,” said Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “Down the stretch each guy made a key play. It showed how much it meant to them.”

Lauri Markkanen, in his best game as a Cavalier, led the way with 31 points and 10 rebounds, including a huge 3-pointer to break a 114-114 tie with 28.3 seconds left.

“That’s been our team all year, we keep fighting,” Markkanen said. “It’s awesome to see everybody keep fighting.”

Markkanen hit 11 of 18 from the floor, including 6 of 12 from three-point range.

He also guarded Denver star Nikola Jokic most of the night with center Jarrett Allen out (broken finger).

“We don’t win without the performance that Lauri had tonight,” said Bickerstaff.

Cleveland, which had lost 3 of 4 games coming in, also rallied from a 63-52 halftime deficit.

Jokic, the reigning NBA MVP, had 32 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in a losing effort.

Darius Garland had 25 points and 14 assists in 45 minutes for the Cavs.

Evan Mobley chipped in 27 points and 11 rebounds.

“When everyone’s locked in, we can do some big things,” Mobley said.

With the win, Cleveland remains in 6th place in the East at 40-30 overall, a game ahead of 7th-place Toronto.

This was game one of a back-to-back for Cleveland, as the Cavs welcome the Chicago Bulls Saturday.

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