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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Game 38: Cavs at Thunder

Chesapeake Energy Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED: If anyone can figure out this team, please let me know. After losing six games in a row and looking like it was ready to go belly-up, the Cavs went on the road and beat Denver and Oklahoma City.

The Thunder had won 14 in a row at home. They also had an NBA-best 17-1 record at home. So, the Cavs come in and just take it to the Thunder.

It was perhaps their biggest win of the season. Some numbers just jump off the box score: The Cavs had 13 steals. They outrebounded Oklahoma City, 51-32. The Cavs had 21 offensive rebounds. Kyrie Irving had a career-high 12 assists.

These came against a team that could emerge from the Western Conference this season and make it to the NBA Finals. The Thunder not only have size, athleticism and talent, they have depth. They are also well-coached by Scottie Brooks.

It adds up to a team that could win the NBA championship.

The Cavs are now 7-11 on the road. It's not much worse than they are at home (8-12).

One reason they won was Alonzo Gee's defensive performance against Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant, who came into the game averaging 28.1 points per game, second only to Kobe Bryant in the NBA scoring race. KD must have felt as if Gee was glued to him all night. Durant finished with a game-high 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. But he had two or three baskets late after the game had already been decided.

The Cavs also got good games from shooting guard Anthony Parker (14 points) and center Ryan Hollins (11 points, six rebounds). Also, forward/center Tristan Thompson snapped out of a mini-slump with five points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

When the Cavs come out and decide they want to play hard, they are quite competitive. They also won without a big offensive game from Irving, who had just nine points. He did have three steals and six rebounds. He made just 4 of 12 from the field.

In Irving's last 17 games, he's averaging 8.7 points in the fourth quarter - tops in the NBA. He was limited to just five in the fourth quarter on Friday.

In the last three minutes this season, he's averaging 3.4 points, third most in the league.

Forward Antawn Jamison, though, is on quite a roll for the Cavs. He's averaging 23.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in his last 10 games.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Houston at 6 p.m. Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena. 

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Kevin Durant (6-9, 235)
PF Antawn Jamison (6-9, 235) vs. Serge Ibaka (6-10, 235)
C Ryan Hollins (7-0, 240) vs. Kendrick Perkins (6-10, 270)
SG Anthony Parker (6-6, 210) vs. Daequan Cook (6-5, 210)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Russell Westbrook (6-3, 187) 
Cavs – G/F Christian Eyenga, F Luke Harangody
Thunder - G Eric Maynor, G Thabo Sefolosha 
James Capers,  Matt Boland,  Tony Brown


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