LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers entered Sunday’s nationally televised contest in Oklahoma City against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder shorthanded with Iman Shumpert out with a left shoulder injury, Mo Williams out with a knee injury and recently acquired Channing Frye who has not completed his physical. The list grew in the second quarter when Kyrie Irving had to leave the game with flu-like symptoms.
The healthy Cavaliers stepped up and put on a show as they sweep the season series against Oklahoma City 115-92. James and Kevin Love combined for 54 points and outscored Durant and Westbrook by eight 54-46.
Love finished with a game high 29 points on nine of 18 shooting and pulled down eleven rebounds for another double double. James finished just three rebounds short of a triple double. LeBron finished with 25 points on eleven of 22 shooting with seven rebounds and eleven assists. Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith also stepped up in the victory. Thompson recorded another double double of his own. Thompson had 14 points and 14 rebounds. Thompson matched his points and rebounding totals in both meeting this season after scoring 15 points with 15 boards in the first meeting in Cleveland back in December. Smith knocked down five three point shots for all 15 of his points in the win.
The Cavaliers shot 52 percent from the field for the game and knocked down ten three point baskets. Cleveland is a tough team to beat when they reach both of those numbers in a game.
Matthew Dellavedova and Richard Jefferson stepped up big off of the Cavaliers bench. Dellvedova only scored two points but dished out seven assists and held his own defensively against Westbrook after Irving had to leave the ball game. Jefferson had perhaps his best game since signing with the Cavaliers in the offseason. Jefferson had 15 points to go along with six rebounds and a blocked shot. Timofey Mozgov added eleven points and five rebounds.
As for the under the weather Irving, the Cavaliers point guard played just nine minutes. Irving scored the the first two points of the game on a 20-foot jumper but missed his final four shots. Irving had two points with an assist and a rebound.
Durant lead Oklahoma City with 26 points and five rebounds. Westbrook missed a triple double by on rebound. Westbrook had 20 points nine rebounds and eleven assists. Serge Ibaka was the only other Thunder in double figures with 12 points. Steven Adams got off to a great start in the first quarter with nine points, but would not score again the rest of the way. Former Cavalier Dion Waiters had a game to forget against his former team. Waiters scored just four points and didn’t score until late in the third quarter on a pair of free throws. Waiters only field goal make was a baseline jumper in the final three minutes of the game. It was Waiters first points since the all-star break.
The Cavaliers would outscore the Thunder off the bench 30-23. After trailing by one at the end of the first quarter 28-27, the Cavaliers won the game in the second and third periods. Cleveland would outscore Oklahoma City 68-45 in the middle two quarters of action. Cleveland has now put in solid performances in the third quarter of both games following the all star break after having problems after halftime in multiple games heading into the break.
Cleveland picks up win number 40 on the season. Eleven of the Thunder’s 16 losses this season have been against Eastern Conference opponents. The Cavaliers return home on Monday night to host the Detroit Pistons at Quicken Loans Arena. Detroit will finally make their first appearance in Cleveland this season. The Cavaliers could see a very upset Pistons team after New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis scored an NBA season high 59 points to go along with 20 rebounds in the Pistons 111-106 loss on Sunday afternoon.