Final Dime: Thunder 95, Cavaliers 75
J.J. Hickson led everyone with 15 boards on Sunday at The Q.
David Liam Kyle
Thirty seconds into the game, Ramon Sessions split a pair of free throws to give Cleveland a one-point lead. That would be as good as it’d get against Kevin Durant and Co., who handed the Cavaliers their fourth straight loss – a listless 95-75 defeat.
The Thunder jumped on the Cavaliers early, leading by 15 after one quarter. Byron Scott’s squad found some life, going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc in the second period – and trailing by a dozen at intermission.
But the Cavaliers would manage just 37 second-half points, with Russell Westbrook scoring 14 points to the Cavaliers’ 18 in the third quarter. By the fourth quarter, both squads’ starters were done for the day.
A visibly upset Byron Scott called his players into question following Sunday’s defeat.
“(I am) really starting to question what type of heart we have as a basketball team,” lamented Scott. “If you’re a competitor, no matter what the situation is or what the year has brought, you are going to come and compete every single night. And we have not done that the last two games.”
The Cavaliers shot just 34 percent from the floor and 62 percent from the stripe. They committed 18 turnovers that led to 22 Oklahoma City points and were outscored, 40-26, in the paint – with much of that damage done by Westbrook, who had his way around the rim, especially against Cleveland’s porous third-quarter defense.
Just two Cavaliers notched double-figures in the Sunday matinee. Daniel Gibson came off Cleveland’s bench to net 13 points, going 5-of-11 from the floor, adding three boards, three assists, a steal and a blocked shot.
“This was just one of those days where we weren’t able to really make shots, execute or get any of the things done that we wanted to get done,” said Gibson. “That was tough, but we have got to keep pressing and keep moving forward.”
Samardo Samuels doubled-up with 10 points and 10 boards and J.J. Hickson added a game-high 15 boards.
The Wine and Gold did manage to outrebound OKC, 54-44, and led them in second-chance points, 20-6. But that was about all the good news for Cleveland on Sunday afternoon.
The Cavaliers hit the road this week, beginning with a Wednesday night matchup against the Kings in California’s capitol.
2. This season, 12 different Cavaliers have led the team in scoring – most in the NBA. The Thunder, conversely, have been led by just five different players. Only Miami, with three, has had fewer.
3. Scott Brooks, the NBA’s reigning Coach of the Year, played on season – 1997-98 – with the Wine and Gold. Brooks, who roomed briefly with Zydrunas Ilgauskas during that year, played 43 games with Cleveland, averaging 1.8 points per contest as Brevin Knight’s backup.
4. After missing the two previous contests with a left hip pointer, Luke Harangody returned to the Cavaliers lineup – (although maybe he wishes he hadn’t). Harangody finished 0-of-8 from the floor, including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc. The former Domer did grab six boards off bench.
5. Baron Davis remained in California with his family following the passing of his grandmother last week. He’s set to rejoin the team on the West Coast, but which game is not yet clear.
“We’ve texted each other the last couple days; he’s doing OK, all things considered,” said Coach Scott. “I think this week is going to be tough. The funeral is Tuesday, so this is probably going to be a tough week for him. The earliest we might see him is Wednesday in Sacramento, but I really think we’ll see him in Los Angeles.”
6. Sunday’s game featured the two most deadly long-range shooters from the U. of Texas. Daniel Gibson lead all former Longhorns with 445 treys (including a pair on Sunday). Durant is not far behind with 393.
7. Before Sunday’s win, the Thunder had dropped five straight at The Q. They hadn’t beaten the Cavaliers in Cleveland since March 2, 2005 – when they were still the Sonics.
8. Since snapping their 26-game skid before the All-Star Break, J.J. Hickson leads the NBA in offensive rebounding – averaging an even 5.0 per contest. Hickson grabbed seven more offensive boards on Sunday.
9. Samardo Samuels stayed strong on Sunday, registering his second double-double in six starts. In those six games, the bruising rookie from Louisville is averaging 14.2 points and 8.0 boards per contest.
10. The Cavaliers will embark on their final West Coast trip of the season – and their final three Western Conference foes of the season – this week when they travel to face Sacramento and Portland in a back-to-back beginning on Tuesday and wrapping up with the Clippers on Saturday afternoon in L.A.
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.