A short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers had no trouble finding offense from a "Big" Big 3 in Oklahoma City on Sunday, defeating the Thunder 115-92. The 23 point victory is the largest point differential in a loss at home for the Thunder this season.
The "Big" Big 3: Kevin Love, LeBron James, and Tristan Thompson, combined for 68 points in a triple double-double for a Cavaliers victory. Love, James, and Thompson continue to be an intriguing and consistent lineup for the Cavaliers this season. Coming into today's game, they had outscored opponents by 20.4 pts per 100 possessions in 726 minutes, per nba.com/stats. Love led the team with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists in 38 minutes, finding his rhythm late with 19 second half points. Thompson added 14 rebounds and points, and LeBron James finished with 25 points and a team-high 11 assists.
The Cavaliers led the game since early in the second quarter and by as many as 26 points during a third quarter run. James played point guard for much of the game, following a first half exit by Kyrie Irving with flu-like symptoms. Irving had just 2 points on 1-of-5 shooting, leaving the Cavaliers with a 10-man rotation. Iman Shumpert was inactive with a sprained left shoulder and a Channing Frye is still pending a team physical. In the absence of their starting backcourt, the Cavs found help from J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson (who played big minutes at the 3) with 15 points each.
Former Cavalier Dion Waiters got his tenth straight start for the Thunder but struggled to find his shot, missing his first seven attempts from the field. He finished the game with just 4 points and one completion. The true highlight for the Thunder came in the third quarter when Russell Westbrook crossed over Dellavedova and split Smith and Love on the fastbreak. Westbrook just missed a triple-double with 20 points, 11 assists, and 9 rebounds. Kevin Durant finished with 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
With this second win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Cavaliers are now 40-14 on the season and hold a 4.5 game lead for first place in the Eastern Conference. Even better, they are finished with regular season matchups against the league's elite: the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder. The Cavs will only have to face one of the three top teams (if they are lucky to face any) in the Finals. The team will travel back to Cleveland for a two-game homestand and a matchup with the Detroit Pistons on Monday.