The Cavs are injured. The Thunder are injured. The Thunder still have Kevin Durant though. Oklahoma City escaped with a 102 to 95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.
Kevin Durant is not nice. Yes, that's the slogan for the ad campaign that Nike put together for Kevin Durant, but it's so damn true. He started very slowly in this game, with Matthew Dellavedova playing some admirable defense against him. But eventually, he got it going. And once he got it going, this thing was over. I turned away to watch some March Madness for a minute and when I looked back, Durant had 21 points before the 2nd quarter was over. Durant finished 35 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. It really didn't seem like he was scoring that much, but apparently he was. I'm not sure that I've ever seen a more effortless scorer than Durant. I'm jealous that Justin Rowan actually got to see him in person tonight. He'll have some extra thoughts about his experience at the game a little bit later.
For the Cavs, there weren't a ton of takeaways. Even though the Oklahoma City Thunder were missing Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins, and Thabo Sefolosha, the Cavs were somehow more short-handed (shorter-handed? I don't know). Kyrie Irving is still out with a bicep injury. C.J. Miles and Luol Deng have matching left ankle sprains. Anthony Bennett is still out with a patellar tendon strain. Carrick Felix is out with -- hahaha just kidding there's no way he would have played anyway. Actually, I take that back because Shane Edwards played in the first half of this game. I still don't know who Shane Edwards is, but he played a handful of minutes. He even scored some points. So there.
But back to what I was saying. A full-strength Cavs team would have an awfully hard time beating the Thunder, but when you take away Kyrie and two key wing players? Forget about it. Nobody could stop KD and the Thunder routinely got open looks from the perimeter. On offense, the Cavs really struggled with the general length of OKC. That is one damn long team. Why can't we draft some really freakishly long players to force turnovers and contest shots? Apparently that wasn't Chris Grant's thing. Maybe David Griffin feels otherwise.
Despite all of that, the Cavs fought hard as hell tonight. They were getting smoked, I dismissed their chances, and then they came back. The end result is still a loss, but I love rooting for (and writing about) a team that doesn't quit. If only they played like this earlier in the season....alas.
Dion Waiters did some nice things. Dion finished with 30 points on 11-25 shooting with 4 assists. He remained extremely aggressive, even though he didn't have a particularly efficient shooting night. He didn't have nearly as many assists as he did against the Miami Heat, but I thought his passing was pretty solid. It hurts when you don't have any other good offensive players to take some pressure off of you or to pass the ball to. It did, however, seem like Waiters was getting some more foul calls than he usually does. That's nice to see.
THREE QUICK NOTES:
- Some people apparently think that this Cavs team has "quit on Mike Brown." I don't see that at all. Even when this game was out of reach (20 points with 6 minutes left), the Cavs were playing with fire. They cut the lead down to 10-points with 2:40 left. And then they made it a 5-point lead with 1:12 left. The defense ramped up and the ball movement on offense got better. Some of that may have been the Thunder just relaxing because they figured that the game was in hand, but the Cavs didn't quit. You can't honestly watch this team over the past 2 months and think that they've quit. If anything, their effort and energy has increased as the season has progressed. As for the people that think they've quit? Well, those people probably just aren't watching. David wrote some good words about this topic. You should read them.
- Matthew Dellavedova is fun. He's like Aaron Craft if Aaron Craft were good at basketball. He's scrappy, relentless, and scrappy. He had his first career double-double tonight with 11 points and 10 assists.
- Tristan Thompson had another rough game. 5 points and 10 rebounds and shot just 2 of 8 from floor. GOSH WHY IS HE SO HORRIBLE? Actually, he's not horrible. He's just a mediocre player. Mediocre players have ups and downs. Why is Tristan having a stretch of bad games all at once? David Lee, Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, and Serge Ibaka might have something to do with that.
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