Road Warriors Win in OKC
After dropping six straight games, the Wine and Gold hit the road to take on a pair of the West’s heavy hitters – including the top team in the Conference. On Wednesday night, Cleveland stunned the Nuggets. On Friday, they did themselves one better.
Facing an Oklahoma City team that had won 14 straight home games and had beaten Cleveland by an average of 25 points per contest last season, it looked like they might have to settle for a split.
Instead, the Cavaliers slugged it out for 48 minutes and were the last team standing – taking the hard-fought 96-90 win on Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in OKC.
“We haven’t been competing and playing as hard as we’re capable of playing for 48 minutes; we’ve got back to playing like it the last couple of games,” said Coach Scott. “When we compete and play hard we can play with anyone in the league and that’s how we feel.”
Neither team took a double-digit lead in a game that saw 21 ties and 20 lead changes. In fact, the Wine and Gold didn’t take their largest lead – nine points – until 44 seconds remained in regulation. By then, the high-octane Thunder had succumbed to the unlikely ambush.
Oklahoma City actually led the affair by a point with just over two minutes to play, but Kyrie Irving – Cleveland’s Mr. Fourth Quarter – scored on consecutive layups to give the Cavaliers a lead they would not relinquish.
Antawn Jamison led the Cavaliers with 21 points – going 9-for-25 from the floor, adding eight boards and three assists.
“It just shows what type of character we have,” praised Jamison. “That is one thing I respect about these guys in the locker room. No matter what the situation is, and believe me it was bad. We still had positive practices, positive feedback, guys were still upbeat and we knew that in order to stop the losing streak, we had to win some tough games.”
Alonzo Gee added 12 points and eight boards and two other starters, Anthony Parker and Ryan Hollins, combined to go 10-for-14 from the floor for 25 points. Parker’s 14-point effort was a season-high.
Kyrie Irving was the only starter who didn’t net double-figures, but the rookie did finish with a career-high 12 assists to go with six boards and just a single turnover in 31 minutes of play.
Ramon Sessions added 10 points off the bench and Cleveland’s reserves outscored OKC’s – 29-24.
As a team, the Cavaliers out-rebounded the Western Conference’s top team by 11 – 51-40 – and beat them in second-chance points, points in the paint and in transition. Cleveland allowed just 10 points off of turnovers.
The Wine and Gold return home after their most successful trip of the season – albeit a short one – to face the Rockets on Sunday evening at The Q.
“(We) surrounded … Kyrie with shooters,” said Coach Scott. “Just spread the floor and see what he can get us. It worked for the second game in a row and that lineup is probably our best lineup right now.”