Darius Garland shouts out Donovan Mitchell for inspiring Cavs to win over Pacers

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers earned their 19th win of the season on Friday night, and it was star guard Donovan Mitchell who led the way in the game. Following the 118-112 win, backcourt mate Darius Garland praised Mitchell for his leadership qualities.

Of course, Mitchell’s 41 points in the contest played a massive role in the eventual win, but Garland spoke to a specific moment in the fourth quarter that energized the Cavs unit and helped propel the team to victory.

WIth 10:20 left in the game, the Cavs found themselves trailing the Indiana Pacers by 12 points. In an apparent attempt to energize and invigorate his squad mates, Mitchell made a challenge for the ball while guarding Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin.

The two players tried to muscle for possession of the ball even after the play had been paused.

After whistles blew and other players got involved, Mitchell emerged from the small scrum with the rock. He lifted it above his head in triumph.

The move by Mitchell showed a hunger that the Cavs needed at that time in the game, and it offered a boost to both the players and fans present at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Garland offered his belief that the moment changed the energy of the game for Cleveland.

“It added a lot,” Garland said of the tie-up. “That’s just our fight. I knew Don was not going to let that ball go. When we saw that, we were like, ‘OK, gotta turn up the physicality and turn up the aggressiveness.’ That’s what we did.”

Mitchell’s contributions to the Cavs this season have been undeniable. He’s averaging 29.7 points, 4.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds per game on 50.6 percent shooting from the field and 43.6 percent shooting from deep. However, it’s been his contributions to the team’s culture that have perhaps had the greatest impact.

Prior to the trade that sent Mitchell to Cleveland this past summer, the Cavs were seen as a young but exciting squad that had a chance to challenge for a playoff spot or play-in tournament berth.

After Mitchell was acquired, the expectations shifted immediately. The acquisition of the 26-year-old star made it clear that the post-LeBron James era rebuild was over. Mitchell brought his talent, ample playoff experience and leadership to town.

Now, the Cavs are considered one of the best teams in the league and seem destined for a high seed in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket.

Obviously, Mitchell’s teammates know just how important he is when it comes to the team eventually accomplishing that goal.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Cavaliers Nation.