This one wasn’t exactly a roller-coaster ride, but the Cavaliers did run up a ten-point lead in the first quarter, no thanks to a slower-than-usual Thunder start. This sort of thing doesn’t sit well at the Peake, so OKC churned up a run to take a six-point lead after the first, stretching the lead to eleven at the half. Cleveland regained some traction in the third, when Anderson Varejao, who hadn’t been a factor up to that point, began to click, and with a few seconds left in that quarter, the Cavs were within three, 76-73. At the buzzer, Russell Westbrook fired up a trey; in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, he hit two more, and Cleveland was done, the Thunder skating away with a 106-91 win.
As the various manifestations of Westbrook go, this was evidently the Good One, with 27 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, though there are those eight turnovers to account for. (The Thunder coughed it up 21 times, which can’t be good.) Scott Brooks left him in for almost 40 minutes, presumably because he was on a roll. In fact, the starters generally played more minutes than average, what with Cleveland refusing to throw in the towel early. And you can’t really argue with Kendrick Perkins landing ten points to go with five boards. That Durant fellow? Twenty-six points, eight rebounds. And Daniel Orton, the Pride of Bishop McGuinness, entered for garbage time at 2:02, hitting his one shot attempt and blocking one of Daniel Gibson’s.
Gibson, in fact, may have exemplified this game for the Cavs. Like Kevin Martin, he led his team’s bench with 16 points, including a trey and three free throws; unlike Kevin Martin, he was -24 for the night. (K-Mart was +25.) With Varejao off his game, it was left to Kyrie Irving (20 points) and Alonzo Gee (18) to run the Cavs’ offense. And while Irving shot well (9-16), nobody else did; Cleveland finished at 41 percent, and a woeful 30 percent from beyond the arc. (For OKC: 55 percent, seven of 15 treys for 47.) Last few years, the Cavs have scored big upsets in this town. Not this time.
Next: up to Detroit tomorrow for a rematch with the Pistons, and then at home Wednesday against the Grizzlies, who just thrashed (some of) the crap out of the Heat. Blood will flow.