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Oklahoma City Thunder

Defense Fuels Thunder to Easy Home Win Over Cavs

Zachary Low

zacharylow88

Game #20 - Cavs - Recap Stats.png

The Oklahoma City Thunder picked up an easy 100-83 win at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on a Wednesday night where Russell Westbrook moved his name up in the record books.

Despite the Cleveland Cavaliers being one of the worst teams in the NBA, the Thunder had an incredibly challenging time getting anything going early. The Cavs went on an 11-0 run midway through the period to lead by 9 at one point while the Thunder missed a handful of shots at the rim to trail 28-21 at the end of the first.

The second quarter started with more ugly basketball for Oklahoma City as Cleveland quickly pushed their lead to 11 thanks to Jordan Clarkson, who had the hot hand for the Cavs. The Thunder finally kicked things into high gear behind Russell Westbrook’s near first half triple-double (10 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists).  Deonte Burton offered some energy off the bench as well as OKC went on a 16-4 run to give the Thunder a 44-42 lead with a little over 2 minutes left in the half. At the half, it was all tied up at 47-47.

The second half looked very similar to the first half, at least to start. The Thunder and the Cavs took turns trading leads, and neither team was doing much to create any distance, but a 10-0 OKC run midway through the period gave the Thunder their largest lead of the night at 64-55. Russell Westbrook recorded his third triple-double of the season as Oklahoma City pushed their advantage 11 to finish the third quarter with a 73-62 lead over Cleveland.

The third quarter success by the Thunder carried over into the fourth as Oklahoma City’s backups were able to push the lead up to 20. OKC finished out the game strong after leading for nearly the entire second half to win 100-83.

Thunder Player of the Game

Jerami Grant continued his strong play of late as he put up 21 points on 8-12 (66.7%) from the floor while grabbing 5 rebounds and blocking 4 shots. Grant continues to bring a youthful energy that is rarely matched, and his consistent improvement is noticeable every single game.

3 Quick Thoughts

  • Russ Keeps Making History: Westbrook put up his best performance of the season as he tallied 23 points, 19 rebounds, and 15 assists for his third triple-double of the season and 107th for his career. He had an efficient night as he shot 10-17 (58.8%) from the field, including 2-5 (40%) from three, and he only turned the ball over 3 times. The most impressive Westbrook stat of the night, though, is the fact that he is now tied for third all-time with Jason Kid for the most triple-doubles. The only difference is that it took Kidd 1,247 games to get there, and Russ did it in just 760.
  • Defense Remains Key: The Thunder’s status as best defensive team in the league looked as accurate as ever tonight. Despite trailing by 11 points in the first half, OKC managed to keep themselves in the game and eventually take a large lead by forcing Cleveland into tough shots and creating chaos on the defensive end. The Thunder racked up a season-high 11 blocks while holding the Cavs to under 40% from the floor.
  • The Bench Showed Up: OKC’s bench has struggled lately, but tonight, there were several sparks that helped fuel the Thunder to victory. Deonte Burton was the most noticeable help for Oklahoma City, and in typical fashion, his energy put him in the middle of several highlights of the night. Burton had a monster dunk in the second quarter and a pair of memorable blocks to go with his 8 points scored. Nerlens Noel also scored 8 points and grabbed 3 rebounds to tie for the most points off the bench. In total, the reserves had 32 points, which isn’t anything too impressive, but the energy that they brought was something more than what shows up in a box score.

Welcome Back, Trae Young

On Friday, the Thunder will host the Atlanta Hawks as former Oklahoma Sooner Trae Young plays his first game in Oklahoma an NBA player. The Hawks are 5-17 on the season, and it has not been pretty. The game will tip at 7 PM and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. The game will also be broadcast on the radio on WWLS 98.1 FM.

Be sure to follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook, and don’t forget to check out our latest episode of Thunder Things with the Thunder Guys on YouTube and Facebook. 

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