It was a game of highlights and runs in Oklahoma City Arena Sunday night, but for almost the entire evening the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers weren’t the beneficiary of either.
The Oklahoma City Thunder shot 53% from the floor, held their visiting opponents to fewer than 20 points in three of four quarters and wiped out the beleaguered Cavaliers 106-77.
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 25 points along with seven rebounds, Jeff Green and James Harden each scored 19 and Russell Westbrook tallied his fourteenth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 assists.
“Tonight was a just a terrific. All phases of the game, defensively and offensively, we did a good job,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Oklahoma City ambushed the visiting Cavaliers, using a pair of scoring runs to gain a 31-17 advantage at the end of the first quarter. After falling behind 6-2 in the opening minutes, the Thunder scored 13 of the game’s next 15 points to take a 15-8 lead. Cleveland crawled back within four at 15-11, but Oklahoma City answered with another haymaker, a 16-2 blitz capped by a crowd-pleasing Harden dunk at the expense of J.J. Hickson.
The Cavaliers fought back into contention after a late first-half run pulled them to within 56-45 at intermission, but failed to gain any ground before eventually surrendering a 19-1 Thunder romp to close the third quarter down 86-58.
Everything seemed to go the Thunder’s way. Even a fan with hopes of winning twenty thousand dollars hit his lone shot, a half-court prayer at halftime.
The Thunder’s decisive win was their third straight, lifting the club to a 17-8 record, and marked the first of a four game set playing in Oklahoma City.
“It’s not common winning by this large of a margin, we understand that,” Brooks said. “It’s nice getting a win, regardless of how we win.”
The loss was the eighth in a row for the free-falling Cavaliers, and perhaps more importantly their final tune up game before a tough South Beach tilt with their former leader LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
“I’m not even thinking about Miami. Right now, my biggest concern is those guys in that locker room,” explained Cleveland coach Byron Scott, who received an ovation before the game from fans who remembered Scott from his coaching days with the Hornets in Oklahoma City. “I’m not thinking about Miami or the next game. It’s just about getting those guys to start understanding a little bit more of what we have to do as a team.”
Anthony Parker led the Cavaliers with 12 points, Daniel Gibson scored 11, Anderson Varejao added 7 points and 16 rebounds and Mo Williams scored eight.
The Cavaliers were dropped to 7-17, a marred mirror image from their 17-7 record through 24 games last season, when King James still called Cleveland home.
Their next matchup will put to harsh test their 3-10 road mark.
“It doesn’t matter. You’ve got to come to work every day,” Williams said. “It’s going to be the next challenge, and it happens to be Miami. We’ve got to go to Miami and play really well to get a win there.”