Cleveland Cavaliers clinch playoff berth as Jarrett Allen’s double-double steals the show

Jarrett Allen scored 24 points and had 14 rebounds, Donovan Mitchell added 22 points and the Cavs clinched a postseason spot for the first time since 2018, beating the Houston Rockets 108-91 on Sunday night.

For the first time since LeBron James left them a second time, the Cavaliers are a playoff team again.

After James left five years ago, the Cavs went through a massive rebuild while enduring coaching changes, a pair of 19-win seasons and just missing the postseason last year before finally getting back.

‘It was a winding road to get here,’ said Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

Along with ending the five-year drought, Cleveland has also returned to the playoffs without James on its roster for the first time since 1998.

Cavaliers' Jarrett Allen (31) shoots against the Rockets' Jabari Smith Jr. (1) and Alperen Sengun

Cavaliers’ Jarrett Allen (31) shoots against the Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr. (1) and Alperen Sengun

‘That´s crazy that that´s the stat or whatever,’ said center Evan Mobley, who was born in 2001. ‘I´m just here trying to win the most I can, and I guess that´s a big deal for a lot of people.’

The Cavs, who made it to four straight Finals with James from 2015-18, are closing in on locking up the No. 4 spot – and home-court advantage in the first round – in the Eastern Conference. They’ve won 9 of 11.

Mobley added 19 points and Darius Garland 17 for Cleveland, which after making the play-in tournament last season, signaled it was ready to compete for a championship when it traded for Mitchell in September.

Following the game, the All-Star guard Mitchell told his teammates to celebrate but not to be satisfied.

‘I told the guys in there, this is what you should just come to expect,’ said Mitchell, who has qualified for the playoffs in each of his six NBA seasons. ‘You made your first one. Appreciate and enjoy it. Celebrate it for the city, for the organization, for you individual guys who have made it.

‘We should come to a point now where that´s expected of us making the playoffs and continuously being here and continuously pushing forward. ‘

Jalen Green scored 30 to pace the Rockets, who have lost five straight.

Houston trailed by 20 in the third quarter but rallied and closed within five early in the fourth when Allen single-handedly put the Cavs back in control.

First, Cleveland’s center hustled back on defense and blocked an attempted dunk by Tari Eason. Allen then made four free throws before his dunk pushed the Cavs’ lead to 11. Caris LeVert knocked down a 3-pointer and made a steal and dunk to give Cleveland a 102-86 lead.

The 21-year-old Mobley, who seems to improve every game, had a dominant sequence in the first half.

Mobley snatched a pair of offensive rebounds to prolong Cleveland’s possession before grabbing a third in the air and dunking over two Rockets defenders to put the Cavs ahead by 11.

Mitchell made back-to-back 3-pointers and scored eight points in the final 1:48 to help the Cavs open a 60-43 halftime lead.

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots against Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr.

Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots against Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. 

TIMBERWOLVES 99, WARRIORS 96

Karl-Anthony Towns hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11 seconds to play after Kyle Anderson stole a pass by Draymond Green, and Minnesota held off Golden State.

Jordan Poole gave Golden State the lead on a 3 with 1:28 left, moments after Towns had connected from deep. Poole had a game-high 27 points.

The Warriors had a chance with 9.9 seconds left but Stephen Curry couldn´t corral Poole´s errant pass, then Curry missed a contested 3 from the baseline just before the final buzzer.

Towns had 14 points and five rebounds in his second outing following a 52-game absence with a strained right calf.

The Warriors had their nine-game home winning streak snapped and missed a chance to boost their playoff positioning. A victory also would have clinched Sacramento´s first postseason berth since 2006. The Kings will try to end the longest playoff drought in NBA history Monday night at home against Minnesota.

Karl-Anthony Towns (32) celebrates after making a three-point basket in the dying seconds

Karl-Anthony Towns (32) celebrates after making a three-point basket in the dying seconds

 GRIZZLIES 123, HAWKS 119

Ja Morant scored 27 points in his return to the Memphis starting lineup and the Grizzlies held off Atlanta for their sixth consecutive win.

Desmond Bane added 25 points for Memphis, twice delivering fourth-quarter baskets after the Hawks pulled within one.

Memphis is second in the Western Conference despite a 15-22 road record. But the six-game winning streak, the NBA´s longest active streak, includes two victories away from home.

Morant received a big cheer from the Atlanta sellout crowd during pregame introductions. He came off the bench in his first two games after serving an eight-game NBA suspension for posting a video in which he was shown waving a gun at a Denver-area strip club.

Trae Young led the Hawks with 28 points and 10 assists, one day after he was ejected for throwing the ball at an official during a 143-130 win over Indiana.

Another stellar performance from talented PG Ja Morant led the Grizzlies to a sixth straight win

Another stellar performance from talented PG Ja Morant led the Grizzlies to a sixth straight win

CELTICS 137, SPURS 93

Jaylen Brown scored 41 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Boston over San Antonio.

The Celtics were without star forward and leading scorer Jayson Tatum, who was sidelined with a bruised left hip. But they still moved within 1½ games of Milwaukee for the Eastern Conference´s best record with their seventh victory in nine games.

Malcolm Brogdon added 20 points and nine assists for Boston, and Derrick White had 19 points with eight rebounds.

Zach Collins had 21 points with seven rebounds for the Spurs, who finished an 0-4 road trip.

Celtics' Jaylen Brown drives toward the basket as San Antonio forward Zach Collins defends

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown drives toward the basket as San Antonio forward Zach Collins defends

HORNETS 110, MAVERICKS 104 

The Charlotte Hornets overcame a 40-point outing from Luka Doncic for their second win over Dallas in three days, another costly blow to the Mavericks’ playoff hopes.

Gordon Hayward scored 22 points and P.J. Washington added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Hornets, who have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Doncic picked up his 16th technical foul of the season in the third quarter, meaning he will face a one-game suspension Monday night unless the technical is rescinded by the league office.

Kyrie Irving had 18 points for Dallas.

Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington runs the offense against the Dallas Mavericks

Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington runs the offense against the Dallas Mavericks

RAPTORS 114, WIZARDS 104

O.G. Anunoby scored 29 points, Fred VanVleet had 28 and Toronto never trailed in a win over Washington.

Pascal Siakam had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Jakob Poeltl added 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Ninth-place Toronto clinched the three-game season series with the Wizards and maintained a three-game lead over 11th-place Washington in the Eastern Conference standings. Both teams have seven games remaining.

Scottie Barnes scored 13 points in his return to the starting lineup after missing two games because of a sore left wrist as Toronto won for the ninth time in 10 home games.

Kristaps Porzingis scored 26 points for the short-handed Wizards, who have lost four straight road games. Washington played without guard Bradley Beal (left knee) for the third straight game, while forward Kyle Kuzma (right ankle) sat out for the fourth consecutive game. Washington was also without guard Monte Morris (left groin).

O.G. Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors goes up for a reverse dunk against the Wizards

O.G. Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors goes up for a reverse dunk against the Wizards

MAGIC 119, NETS 106

Cole Anthony had 21 points to lead eight Orlando scorers in double figures, and the Magic overcame Mikal Bridges´ 44 points in a victory over Brooklyn.

Franz Wagner added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando. Wendell Carter had 18 points and six rebounds, and Jalen Suggs returned from an injury with 16 points to help the Magic win their third straight. Paolo Banchero finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Bridges came up one point short of his career high. Cam Thomas added 18 points for the Nets, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.

Magic guard Cole Anthony goes up to shoot in front of Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie

Magic guard Cole Anthony goes up to shoot in front of Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie

THUNDER 118, TRAIL BLAZERS 112

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 31 points and Oklahoma City beat depleted Portland.

Jalen Williams had 23 points and Isaiah Joe added 20 off the bench for the Thunder (37-38), who moved into a tie for ninth place in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Shaedon Sharpe led the Trail Blazers with a career-high 29 points, and Nassir Little scored a season-best 28 off the bench. The loss was Portland´s eighth in 10 games. The Blazers (32-42) are four games back of 10th place in the West and the final spot in the play-in tournament.

Portland was playing without four of its five regular starters as guards Damian Lillard (right calf) and Anfernee Simons (right foot), forward Jerami Grant (left calf) and center Jusuf Nurkic (right knee) all sat out.

Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander passes the ball away from Trail Blazers' Matisse Thybulle

Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander passes the ball away from Trail Blazers’ Matisse Thybulle 

BULLS 118, LAKERS 108 

LeBron James scored 19 points off the bench in his return from a monthlong injury absence, but Zach LaVine had 32 to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 118-108 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

DeMar DeRozan added 17 points for the Bulls, who easily overcame James´ return with an impressive performance in their seventh win in nine games. LaVine hit 11 of his first 14 shots to lead an offensive effort that snapped the Lakers´ three-game winning streak despite the return of the NBA´s career scoring leader.

James sat out 13 games with right foot soreness, missing four weeks during the Lakers´ run at a playoff berth.

For only the second time in his 20-year, 1,958-game NBA career, James wasn´t a starter. He came in midway through the first quarter.

The Lakers still were without D´Angelo Russell, who missed his second straight game with a right hip injury. Los Angeles went 8-5 in James´ absence.

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine dunks for the basket in win against the Los Angeles Lakers

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine dunks for the basket in win against the Los Angeles Lakers

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Sports Event Casino Handicap Description

PK0It means not giving in to each other, and winning 1 point wins all.
0-500/0.5Indicates that when the handicap team is tied with the transferee team, the team betting on the handicap loses 50%.
0 loss0.5Indicates that when the handicap team is tied with the transferee team, the team betting on the handicap loses.
1+500.5/1When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the team betting on the handicap wins 50% and wins all 2 points.
1 level1Indicates that when the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the two teams will tie and win by 2 points.
1-501/1.5When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 2 points.
1 loss1.5When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 1 point, the team betting on the handicap loses all and wins by 2 points.
2+501.5/2When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the team betting on the handicap wins 50% and wins all 3 points.
2 flat2Indicates that when the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the two teams will tie and win all 3 points.
2 losses2/2.5When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 3 points.
3+502.5When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 2 points, the team betting on the handicap loses all and wins all 3 points.
3 losses2.5/3When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap wins 50%, and all 4 points win.
3 levels3Indicates that when the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the two teams will tie and win all 4 points.
3-503/3.5When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap loses 50% and wins all 4 points.
3 losses3.5When the handicap team wins the handicap team by 3 points, the team betting on the handicap loses all and wins all 4 points.
Sports Event Casino Handicap Description

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Winning the Game: This is one of the most common sports betting variants where players bet on which team or athlete will win the game before it starts.

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