Wine and Gold Rally Falls Short
Wrap-Up – The Wine and Gold may have dropped three straight contests to some of the NBA’s true heavyweights – but each one of them left knowing they’d been in a fight. On Thursday night, the Cavaliers trailed by 24 points midway through the fourth quarter before going on a 23-2 run to slice OKC’s advantage to just five with 1:11 to play. But Kevin Durant drained his free throws in the closing seconds to ice the 102-95 win at The Q.
Dion Waiters notched 20 of his team-high 30 points after intermission – going 11-for-25 from the floor in his second straight start, adding four assists and leading Cleveland with three steals. Spencer Hawes scored 10 of his 20 points in the final period, going 8-for-17 from the field. The third Cavalier in double-figures was Matthew Dellavedova, who added 11 points and 10 assists.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 35 points, tying Serge Ibaka with a team-high 11 boards. The Thunder dominated Cleveland on the glass, 53-36 – notably on the offensive glass, 18-9. The Thunder also blocked seven shots – three by Ibaka – while the Wine and Gold didn’t swat a single OKC offering.
Turning Point –The shorthanded Cavaliers – playing their second straight game without starters Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng – went into the fourth quarter down 17. And when Caron Butler’s trey put OKC up 24, Thunder coach Scott Brooks pulled most of his starters. But Spencer Hawes scored five straight points to ignite the Cavaliers rally. Less than two minutes later, Dellavedova canned a baseline floater to cap a 16-0 run. Brooks re-inserted his starters, but the Wine and Gold didn’t relent –trading baskets with the Thunder until Durant put the game away from the stripe in the final 37 seconds.
Game Ball – Matthew Dellavedova – When Alonzo Gee picked up his second foul less than two minutes into the game, Coach Mike Brown was forced to mix and match, and so the scrappy Delladova drew Kevin Durant for the remainder of the quarter, where he held the MVP candidate to 4-for-10 shooting. Delly eventually got a break defensively, and offensively he went on to net his first career double-double – netting 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting to go with a career-high 10 assists.
By the Numbers – .109 … field goal percentage points that Spencer Hawes has improved from February (.376) to March (.485) – the third-biggest leap in the league during that span.
Quotable – Dion Waiters, on the Cavaliers getting beat on the boards …
”They were just more aggressive than us. I blame myself, too, for that. I have to get back down there to help the bigs rebound. I can’t just always depend on them to get the rebound, so I take the blame for that tonight. As guards, we have to rebound too.”
Up Next – The Cavs wrap up their mini-homestand on Saturday night when they welcome James Harden, Dwight Howard and the Rockets to The Q. They hit the road immediately afterward, traveling to the Big Apple where they’ll face off against the Knicks on Sunday evening. Next week, the Wine and Gold welcome Toronto on Tuesday before getting back on the road – with a Wednesday night matchup in the Motor City and a Friday night meeting with the Nets in Brooklyn.
Watch Interview: Dion Waiters