Cleveland Cavaliers rookie guard Darius Garland had six points in the final four minutes of Saturday’s 111-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
He was congratulated by Kevin Love immediately after the final buzzer due to his big shot-making down the stretch. It included three made shots from inside the arc that extended the team’s lead late, including two on back-to-back possessions.
“Darius has been the guy. He hit some big shots and he’s confident,” Love said, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “I’m trying to tell him, ‘Every time they give you that shot, you have to shoot it.’ And he’s getting in the lane, slowing down, finally making decisions and finally getting into a great rhythm. Look, he didn’t play any basketball last year. This is really his, if you look at it, almost his college season. This has been great for him. Feel like he’s finally settling in. He hit big shots. That’s where we see him trending and where we see him going.”
Garland finished with 18 points Saturday, giving him an average of 16.3 points per contest over his last eight outings. The Cavs have handed the rookie an immense workload in that span, as he has been on the floor for better than 35 minutes per game.
Love’s support of one of the team’s future cogs comes at a critical juncture in his longevity with the franchise. As the Cavs continue to grow its young stars, Love will need to play the role of both veteran and steady presence in the box score. For now, Love still calls Cleveland home and is embracing the youthful production.