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In the NBA, sometimes you gotta win ugly.
The Wine and Gold got back in the win column – handing the Thunder their fifth straight loss and topping them for the second time in a calendar week – but it wasn’t a thing of beauty. Cleveland committed 23 turnovers, missed 17 free throws and scored just 16 points in the final period, but in the end, the final score tilted their way – holding off OKC, 94-87, on Saturday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
One week earlier in Oklahoma City, the Cavaliers overcame an 18-point deficit to earn the victory. On Saturday night, the Thunder tried to turn the tide – chipping away through the fourth quarter after Cleveland built up a 17-point edge in the third.
But the road-weary Thunder weren’t able to get over the hump in the final period – getting as close as five early in the period before the Cavaliers clamped down late.
Ugly as the victory might have been, it was still Cleveland’s seventh in the last nine outings and improved the Cavs mark against the Western Conference to 13-9 on the season.
Three Cavaliers starters doubled-up in the victory – led by Darius Garland, who notched his sixth double-double in his last seven games, finishing with a team-high 23 points on 9-for-20 shooting, adding a game-high 11 assists – equaling OKC’s combined starting five.
Evan Mobley continued his freshman ascent – grabbing a career- and game-high 17 boards to go with 15 points, going 6-of-12 from the field, adding two assists and a block.
Jarrett Allen doubled-up for the fifth time in his last seven outings and for the 25th time this season – adding 14 points and 13 rebounds in the win, going 6-of-9 from the floor to go with three assists and a pair of blocked shots.
Cedi Osman rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 13 points, going 3-of-7 from the floor and 3-of-5 from the stripe in 19 minutes of work off the bench.
Saturday’s herky-jerky contest, which lasted nearly two-and-a-half hours had a little bit of everything – and, aside from the final score, not much of it was good.
Late in the first half, Cavs forward Lauri Markkanen came down awkwardly and sprained his right ankle. The 5th-year man had to be helped from the floor and didn’t return in the second half.
And midway through the fourth, on a loose ball scrum, Thunder guard Luguentz Dort elbowed Kevin Love in the right shoulder. After a lengthy review, Dort was assessed a Flagrant-2 and shown the door with 7:04 to play.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led both teams with 29 points – going 12-for-23 from the floor, adding nine boards, six assists and three steals in the loss.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Darius Garland with a step-back 3-pointer.
Saturday’s contest was such an ugly, uneven game, it’s difficult to define a true turning point.
If anything, it’s the final stretch of the fourth quarter after OKC had cut Cleveland’s lead to five – 78-73 – with 10:33 remaining in the ballgame. The Wine and Gold didn’t light up the scoreboard from there, but they did hold the Thunder scoreless for nearly four minutes of action, with Mamadi Diakite finally getting OKC on the board with a layup at the 6:36 mark.
The Thunder would get no closer than a half-dozen as Cleveland held on for the home win.
By the Numbers - 20.9, 10.6 … Darius Garland’s scoring and assist averages over his last 10 games, with six 20-point games, one 30-point game and seven double-doubles in the mix, including the last four straight.
Saturday’s effort – in his 150th career start – was Garland’s 15th double-double of the season and his eighth game this season with at least 20 points and 10 assists.
”We’ll take the win, but that was a disappointing game for us. We didn’t play the game or approach the game with the seriousness that we needed to. It’s over now, we got the win, but we can’t afford to play that.”
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
After Saturday’s win over OKC to open the homestand, the Cavaliers welcome Julius Randle and the Knicks to town on Monday night, followed by a visit from the Giannis Antetokounmpo and the World Champs on Wednesday.
After a well-earned three-day break, Cleveland closes out the month of January with a back-to-back – traveling to Motown for a Sunday night meeting with the Pistons before returning home for a Monday night meeting with the Pelicans at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.