Mozgov puts up double-double in home debut for Cavs

Timofey Mozgov made life tough inside for the Bulls.

David Richard/David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND — Since being traded to the Cavaliers on Jan. 7, Timofey Mozgov has had to adjust to his new team on the fly, so much so that he is still wearing his old sneakers that are adorned in the colors of his former team, the Denver Nuggets.

As long as Mozgov can put together nights like Monday, it really doesn’t matter what shoes he wears. In his first home game with the Cavs, the 7-foot-1 Russian had 15 points and 15 rebounds as Cleveland defeated Chicago 108-94.

It is Mozgov’s 11th double-double of the season and his second in six games with the Cavaliers, who acquired Mozgov two weeks after Anderson Varejao was lost for the season with a torn achilles. The points and rebounds are also the most he has had against the Bulls in eight career meetings.

"Since he came in here he’s applied himself extremely well. He’s really a great fit for our team, the skill set that he has and activity level," head coach David Blatt said. "Obviously he has come in and filled a big void."

On a night when the Bulls shot 37.5 percent from the field, Mozgov gets a large amount of credit for forcing Chicago into bad shots as he challenged Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose in the paint. The Bulls were 15 of 37 shooting in the paint.

Mozgov’s best defensive play came less than four minutes into the second quarter when he got back on transition defense, keeping up with a driving Aaron Brooks before blocking his layup attempt.

"With Timo out there he is going to help all of us clean up the glass and force guys into tough shots," Kevin Love said. "He’s a guy who pump fakes on a rotation on the weak side and can block a shot. He consumes a ton of space and that is big for us."

Mozgov was 7 of 14 from the field and 1 of 1 from the line. He is averaging 9.3 points with the Cavs after averaging 8.5 this season with the Nuggets.

Added Love: "He has opened up a lot of shots inside. It is tough to double team when you have a guy that big in there when you have a high-low. I saw one play today where he ducked in and took up a ton of space and got a little duck-in bucket."

While he was happy to get the better of his matchup against Gasol, who was held to 11 points, Mozgov just looked at it as another test in a long 82-game season.

"No matter who you play against you have to show your best every night," he said. "We just have to continue to play hard but it looks like we are doing a good job of adjusting to each other."

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