When the final score looks like 95-75, you wonder if the Thunder were that good on defense or the Cavaliers were that woeful on offense. In fact, it was a little of both. Cleveland shot barely 33 percent; they gave up thirteen steals and saw eleven shots blocked. Still, this is a team that can execute more often than not: they outrebounded OKC, 54-44, including a whopping 18 offensive boards, which says pretty clearly that despite their depleted ranks — Baron Davis was away due to a death in the family, Anderson Varejao’s been out since January, and Antawn Jamison banged up a finger a couple weeks ago — the Cavs weren’t going to sleepwalk their way through this one.
And some of the Cavs came up with numbers. Daniel Gibson came off the bench for 13 points; rookie power forward Samardo Samuels, starting for once, had ten points and ten boards; J. J. Hickson had eight points and grabbed 15 rebounds. But maybe it is the defense: last time the Cavs were in OKC, they shot, yes, barely 33 percent.
The big scorers for OKC didn’t score so big, mostly because none of them played that many minutes. Russell Westbrook checked in with 20, Kevin Durant with 19 (and a rare technical), and James Harden led the bench with 16. Serge Ibaka was in good form: he didn’t shoot so well (3-12, 8 points), but he pulled down 14 boards and delivered his trademark swat seven times. And Nazr Mohammed, who typically has been getting 15-20 minutes in Scott Brooks’ rotation, got an extended outing (25:45) today, due at least in part to an ankle injury to Nick Collison, and responded with 11 points and a steal.
If you have to play a back-to-back, this is the schedule on which you want to do it: the Sunday matinee, over with before 3 pm, and then a standard Monday-night game. The Thunder are on the way to Washington to take on the Wizards, and yours truly will be late on the recap, inasmuch as I have a neighborhood-association meeting to attend during those hours. I really don’t expect anything remarkable to happen, but you never know with the Wizards.
Counterpoint: “Listless Cavs sleepwalk to another loss.”