Kyrie. Monkey-fighting. Irving.
Exceeding all expectations, the Cavaliers pulled out a win over the vastly superior Oklahoma City Thunder in surprisingly standard fashion for a team becoming known for its fourth-quarter comebacks. Kyrie was once again as clutch as a stick shift (I'll show myself out).
Cavs Leaders: Points: Jamison - 22; Rebounds: Jamison, Gee, Thompson - 8; Assists: Irving - 12
I was utterly stunned by the Cavs' effort throughout the game. It was just so much like that of a team that is a winner, which is why it was so confusing. They simply out-hustled the Thunder, out-rebounding them 51 to 40 overall and 21 to 8 on the offensive glass. They fought for every loose ball, forced turnovers, and didn't turn the ball over too much themselves. Even those rebounding numbers can't fully capture the effort the Cavs were putting forth on the glass. They fought tooth and nail for every ball that was near them. The game was closely contested the whole way, and when it looked like it might slip away from the Cavs in the fourth quarter, you-know-who stepped up in the clutch with two huge buckets and an assist to put the game away.
Kyrie didn't shoot great, going 4-12 from the floor. He put on a clinic with his passing though, racking up a new career high of 12 assists. I'd like to see him put together a good shooting performance with his good passing performances, but I'll take what I get. One thing I'm a bit concerned about is that Irving has been in a bit of a slump the past two or three games on his jump shots. I'm sure it's just a normal slump, but it's still something to look out for. Hopefully he turns that around soon.
Alonzo Gee played excellent defense on Kevin Durant, despite Durant's statline of 23 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists. Gee kept him off of his game enough to stop him from catching fire in the fourth in an attempt to win the game, and he just generally harassed him all night. Add that to his 12 points and 8 rebounds, and Gee has been doing quite well as a starter in his past four games.
Guess who wasn't terrible? If you guessed Ryan Hollins or Anthony Parker, you were right! Surprisingly, the two Cavs players I love to hate most had decent games, as Hollins had 11 and 6 on 4-6 shooting, and Parker had 14 points on 6-8 shooting. I still maintain that they are both terrible, and do not regret my slight hope that Parker would be out with a hand injury so that Manny Harris could play. But I won't complain when they turn in performances like this. Just don't come to expect it on a nightly basis.
I feel obligated to mention Tristan Thompson's effort. He had 8 rebounds in 22 minutes, but really created a lot more rebounds for his teammates with his active hands and non-stop effort on the offensive glass. Now if he could only transfer that effort the defensive glass as well, I'd be fully happy. But regardless, good showing by Tristan tonight, at least effort-wise.
Fear The Sword's Player Of The Game:
For a team that beat the top team in the Western Conference, the Cavs didn't really have one player that played excellent ball. Irving had an off shooting night, but still takes home the prize because of his excellent dishing, as well as getting 6 rebounds and his second straight game with 3 steals. Not to mention the repeat clutch performance, and this time he did it not only by scoring, but also by passing with a sweet dime to Jamison for an easy bucket in the paint. I continue to be floored by how good Kyrie is, and just how clutch he is, despite the overblown trope on clutchness.
The Cavs' next game is Sunday at 5:30 p.m. against the Houston Rockets, who are playing pretty good ball. Keep in mind that at any point in the next week we could see a trade going down, as many of us hope, so stay tuned on that front. Oh, and don't forget to turn your clocks forward!