The Cleveland Cavaliers occupy one of the lower rungs of the Eastern Conference, and have been there more or less ever since King James took his muscles to South Beach, but however lowly their position in the standings, they always manage to get themselves up for the Thunder. Seriously. The last three seasons, the Cavs were generally considered terrible, but they always managed a 1-1 split with OKC. And despite the absence of both C. J. Miles and Anderson Varejao, the Cavs summoned more than enough strength to score 42 in the fourth quarter and knock off the Thunder by ten, 114-104.
Kyrie Irving did the sort of closing job one expects from the likes of Kevin Durant: he was everywhere in those last 12 minutes, scoring 14 to finish the night with a game-high 31. The four other Cleveland starters also made double figures: the generally underrated Jarrett Jack knocked down 21, recent transplants Spencer Hawes and Luol Deng added 19 and 13, and Tristan Thompson kicked up a double-double on 11 points and 11 boards. The reserves weren’t asked to do much other than hold serve, and they did that well enough: all four of them went plus for the night, while the five Thunder benchers were minus.
Not that the starters were so hot. Durant and Serge Ibaka had double-doubles (KD, 28 points/10 boards, Serge 16 points/13 boards), and Russell Westbrook, allowed 30 minutes tonight, looked pretty good with 24 points and nine assists. But that was about it: Steven Adams will be a pretty good center some day, but this wasn’t that day, and Reggie Jackson was going through one of his periodic incidences of “Now where does this round thing go?” Oh, and there’s this: without Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder are 0-4 this year.
So much for Cleveland cream-puffiness. The Thunder are going to be seriously manhandled by the likes of Memphis, who, not incidentally, will show up here Friday night.