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Game Recap: Despite A Valiant Rally, Cavs Fall To Thunder 94-103

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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers 8-game winning streak came to an end tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Cavs lost 103-94 in Oklahoma City. The Cavs got off to an excellent start without their superstar MVP and team captain LeBron James, who sat out tonight’s game with knee soreness.

They even held a double digit lead in the first quarter, but the greatness and experience of Russell Westbrook as well as current MVP Kevin Durant proved too much for the Cavaliers to handle in the end. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:

First Half:

With Matthew Dellavedova starting in place of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving slid to the shooting guard spot with Marion as the starting small forward:

{adinserter 2}The Cavaliers started the game with Kyrie Irving scoring seven of the first nine points. Westbrook scored the first six points for the Thunder to help them take a 6-5 lead, but the Cavs went on a 13-2 run capped by a shot-clock beating, step-back three-pointer by Dion Waiters to take an early 10 point lead. Oklahoma City had a tough time valuing possessions in the first quarter, as they had almost as many turnovers, seven, as field goals made, eight. After exchanging a couple baskets to end the quarter, the Cavs took a 26-18 lead with very good balance. All five starters scored and Tristan Thompson as well as Waiters both had 3 points off the bench. Irving finished the quarter with seven points and Love had seven points and five rebounds. Westbrook led the Thunder with 10 points.

The Cavaliers were able to take the largest lead of the first half at 31-20 on three James Jones free throws. The rest of the half went downhill from there, as the Cavs quickly relinquished that lead as the Thunder went on a 16-4 run fueled by Durant, Westbrook, and Reggie Jackson to take their first lead of the game at 39-38. At the 6:40 mark, Love and Serge Ibaka got into an arm-locking match following a fight for a rebound as the Thunder looked to push the ball on offense. A double foul was called and that was it between them for the half. At the 1:31 mark of the 2nd, Kyrie Irving contested a Westbrook jumpshot and suffered a left knee contusion on the landing. He immediately collapsed, but didn’t seem to be in too much pain. He was helped off the court and into the locker room. Waiters scored five of the last seven Cavalier points to end the half at a 47-47 ballgame. The Cavs were outscored 29-21 in the 2nd quarter, where they shot just 5-23, but got to the free throw line 11 times. Dion Waiters led the Cavs with 12 halftime points. Irving had 9, and Love and Dellavedova both had six. For the Thunder, Westbrook was the only player in double figures with 16. Kevin Durant had six points and Jeremy Lamb had nine off the bench.

Kyrie Irving came onto the floor at halftime to warm up as he was cleared to return to the game:

Second Half:

Irving looked good to start the quarter, cutting and moving regularly, so it seemed he and the Cavs avoided a serious injury. The Cavs matched the Thunder in the first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter, with both teams scoring 10 points and were tied at 57 apiece. The Thunder then scored 10 straight points to take a 10 double digit lead that they would hold for most of the 3rd quarter. The Thunder came together as a team to outscore the Cavs 31-19 in the 3rd quarter and take a 78-66 lead to the 4th quarter. The Cavs had 4 players in double figures; Love had 14 and 11 rebounds, Irving had 13, Waiters had 14, and Thompson had 10 and nine rebounds after three. The Thunder bench had 24 points in the 3rd which helped them open up the lead.

The Thunder started the 4th on an 8-0 run to blow the game open and give them a 20 point lead at 86-66. The Cavs were all but out of it and looked like the final score could be an embarrassing deficit. Instead, the Cavs began their comeback led defensively by Matthew Dellavedova, who upped the pressure on Kevin Durant for much of the 4th quarter. Offensively, Dellavedova, Irving, and Love led the Cavs on a huge 25-9 run to bring them within 95-92. Westbrook had six of those nine points, and Dellavedova held Durant scoreless until the final two minutes of the game. Delly also had eight points (two timely three-pointers) in the 4th during the Cavs comeback. Durant’s experience and MVP status proved too much for the Cavaliers, as he scored the final eight points of the quarter for the Thunder to effectively put Cleveland away for good.

Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers in tonight’s loss with 20 points on 7-21 shooting, with three rebounds, six assists, and two steals while only committing one turnover. Kevin Love had 18 points and 16 rebounds (on 5-13 from the field), and two assists. Matthew Dellavedova provided a necessary spark in his first start of the season, scoring 14 points on 5-8 shooting (4-6 from 3-point), adding five rebounds and four assists. Tristan Thompson had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks off the bench, while Waiters added 14 points and four assists.

Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 26 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists in his usual, all-around effort. Durant struggled for most of the game, but finished with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Reggie Jackson scored 13 points with 4 rebounds and 3 assists while Anthony Morrow had 11 to round out the double figure scorers. Lamb had 9 points, and Ibaka scored 7 points with 2 blocks and no rebounds as he fouled out in only 26 minutes of play.

As the team, the Cavaliers struggled shooting in the middle quarters of the game, where they scored just 40 combined points on 12-43 from the field with 9 turnovers in the 2nd and 3rd. They finished 31-85 (36.5%) from the field, 9-28 from the 3-point line, 23-30 from the free throw line, with 48 rebounds (including 15 offensive), 20 assists and 14 total turnovers. With James not in the lineup, the Cavs bench was able to put up 31 points on the night. Matthew Dellavedova’s play on the night was outstanding, as he was able to hit a lot of timely baskets and create plays for his teammates while also defending Jeremy Lamb, Russell Westbrook, and even Kevin Durant in the important 4th quarter comeback.

The Thunder were just a little better, as they finished 38-87 (43.7%) from the field, 7-26 from the 3-point line, 20-22 from the free throw line, while grabbing 46 rebounds, 22 assists, as well as getting 9 steals and 11 blocks on the night. 4 different players had at least 2 blocks on the night. After turning the ball over 7 times in the first quarter, the Thunder only turned the ball over 4 times the rest of the game. The Oklahoma City bench scored 39 points.

The Cleveland Cavaliers (13-8) don’t have much time to think about this loss, as they play again Friday night on the second of a back-to-back at the New Orleans Pelicans at 8:00 PM ET

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