Road Warriors Win in OKC

Cavs Travel to Top Best in the West
Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving led both teams with 12 assists in Friday night's win.
Layne Murdoch (NBAE/Getty Images)
For the second time in three days, the Cavaliers defied the odds.

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.

  • For the second straight game, the Cavaliers closed out the win with a small lineup – utilizing three guards and Antawn Jamison at the five. That formula worked for Byron Scott again on Friday.

    “(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.”

  • Friday’s game featured the top two fourth-quarter scorers – Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant – in the NBA since January 27. Irving has been averaging 8.9 points in the final period and finished with five on Friday; Durant’s averaging 8.6 and netted eight in the loss.

  • Since February 27, Antawn Jamison is tied with LeBron James for the most games of 20-plus points and 8-plus rebounds per contest with seven – including Friday night’s win.

  • OKC’s Serge Ibaka had six blocked shots on the night – including a jaw-dropping five swats in the final 1:15 of the second quarter.

  • Daniel Gibson went 2-for-3 from long-distance against OKC and is at even 40 percent on the season. He needs 28 more treys to move past Danny Ferry for 4th place on the Cavaliers all-time list.

  • Seen in the crowd were a pair of Oklahoma gridiron celebrities – current Sooner defensive coordinator (and Youngstown native) Mike Stoops and legendary former head coach Barry Switzer.