It appears that LeBron’s new teammates are fitting in even better than his old teammates; the Cavaliers, having done the amazing El Foldo the last time the Thunder came to Cleveland, were presumably anxious for payback in front of Loud City, and by jiminy, they got it, mostly by working their black-clad tails off. James, not unexpectedly, carried his share of the load and then some, piling up a game-high 37 points, but there were other factors working for the Cavs. For one, Cleveland shot above 50 percent most of the night, finishing a hair above 51. And speaking of 51, the Cavalier reserves picked up 51 points, while the Thunder bench managed only 20. The 120-112 Cleveland win ties up the season series, and the OKC starters, in the process of racking up 92 points, spent many minutes on the court, which probably will not help them tomorrow night in Memphis.
The scarier aspect of these Cavs is not so much that LeBron can pretty much out-LeBron anyone — we all knew that — but the sheer depth they have. I mean, if Jose Calderon can get a DNP-CD, you know there’s some serious scoring going on without him. Of five Cleveland reserves, four finished in double figures; only Kyle Korver came up empty-handed. And Mr. Streak his own bad self, J. R. Smith, took nine faraway shots and connected on six for all 18 of his points. Meanwhile, OKC landed four guys in double figures (Paul George 25, Carmelo Anthony 24, Steven Adams 22/17 rebounds, Russell Westbrook 21/12 dimes), and three scored zilch. Telltale stat: Jerami Grant and Raymond Felton, the only bench players to score, had the two worst plus-minus figures in the game. This may not be tragic — hell, LeBron was minus 1 — but it does show you where who got outplayed.
Tomorrow in Memphis, then the All-Star break, then back to the West Coast. OKC is a long way from anything resembling a top-four seed. Then again, it’s only February, for now anyway.