Game Recap: Thunder 95, Cavaliers 75

News and notes following the Thunder’s 95-75 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers:

  • Always nice to be able to rest your starters on the first day of a back-to-back and most of the Thunder starters spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench thanks to the big lead.
  • This is the first time the Thunder franchise has won in Cleveland since 2005, of course a lot of things have changed with the Cavs since then. The Thunder are also now 6-1 in March, 10-3 in the first game of a back-to-back, 24-7 vs teams with losing records and 19-6 vs teams from the Eastern Conference.
  • Oklahoma City players lost a couple of hours on the trip to Cleveland. One because they flew from the central time zone to the eastern and another one slipped away overnight when Daylight Savings Time began. So that noon tip-off in Cleveland probably felt like 10AM for Thunder players.
  • Serge Ibaka finished one rebound shy of his career-high. He pulled down 14 rebounds and blocked seven shots.
    “Every time we play it is my job to get rebounds and blocks,” Ibaka said, “I do that stuff first. The season is almost over so every game now is important. We have to take care of our business.”
  • Thunder with great defense to start the game Cleveland hitting just 28.6% and scored just 14 points. That’s the fewest Oklahoma City has allowed an opponent in a first quarter this season. OKC allowed the Cavs just 13 points in the third quarter of the game the two teams played in Oklahoma City.
    “It was important to come out with good energy on the defensive end,” said Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks, “I thought Serge (Ibaka) was great with his rebounds and his blocked shots. We also shared the ball really well again on offense. 25 assists that’s a good number for us.”
    “The defense is where it starts for us,” said Thunder guard Daequan Cook, “We were effective on defense and so that helped us on offense.”
  • Thunder out to a 20-point lead with still almost five minutes left before halftime.
  • Oklahoma City with a nice half on both ends. 50 points on 48.9% shooting, 15 assists on 20 made baskets. Cleveland ends the half with just 38 points on 28.9%.
  • Russell Westbrook starting to take over in the third quarter with four consecutive drives to the basket and eight points over a two minute span. He ended up with 14 points in the quarter. Westbrook has also forced Cleveland point guard Ramon Sessions into four turnovers.
  • Oklahoma City starts the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to push the lead all the way out to 27 points.
    “We had a good lead early in the game then we kinda relaxed a little bit,” Brooks said, “sop we knew we needed to come out in the third and fourth quarters and play well and I thought we did.”

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW: Russell Westbrook gives up a turnover early in the game but doesn’t give up on the play and steals the ball right back then hits a wide open lay-up...Serge Ibaka off to a guard start on defense. Two blocks and a steal in the first seven minutes of the game...Thunder have forced five Cleveland turnovers over that same time frame...Nick Collison scores with his left hand, something we’ve seldom seen since Nick is right handed. Just a little something else for defenders to worry about...More solid defense down low by Nazy Mohammed and Serge Ibaka, Ibaka with five blocks and eight rebounds in the first half and Mohammed has altered several Cavs shots...Nick Collison takes another charge in the third quarter. He leads the NBA in charges taken...Ibaka just continues to dominate in the paint, during one Cavs possession late in the third quarter he blocked a shot and then forced another Cleveland player to alter his shot leading to a turnover...

STATS WORTH REPEATING: Thunder hold Cleveland to just 75 points on 33.8% shooting...Cleveland hit five 3-pointers in the first half but none in the second...James Harden with 16 points has now scored in double figures in 12 straight games...Coming off the bench Eric Maynor handed out eight assists, tying a season-high...

LAST WORD: “It’s all about respecting your opponent,” Brooks said. “I’m not concerned with who we’re playing I’m just concerned with how we’re playing.”

UP NEXT: The Eastern Conference road swing continues Monday night in Washington, DC. Tip-Off is set for 6 PM on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.