On the cover, this could have been another one of “those” games. On the road against an up-and-coming Oklahoma City team full of young, talented scorers that have been playing very well as of late. In fact, up until midway through the fourth quarter, it was just that. But thankfully, the Cavaliers got the job done in the second half, finishing the contest with a 13-point win, 102-89.
On paper, much of the success will be pinned on the shoulder of LeBron James who finished with 44 points (a season high), seven rebounds, and six assists. James sank five of eight three-point attempts, tacked on four steals, and added yet another chasedown block – the most recent victim, Thabo Sefolosha.
But James was not alone in this win as Mo Williams was electric yet again, finishing with 22 points and four assists to go with what may have been the biggest shot of the night. Sinking four total three-point shots, the biggest was of the half-court variety in through the fourth quarter. With the Cavaliers only up four points, a pass was deflected beyond the halfcourt line as the shot clock ticked towards zero. With no other options, Williams set his feet and launched what looks to have been about a 50-foot shot and touched nothing but net.
This shot from Williams put the Cavaliers up by a more-comfortable seven points and would ultimately be the dagger in the Thunder’s chances. Oklahoma city would fail to score again for what seemed like an eternity as the Cavaliers applied a Mortal Kombat-esque FINISH HIM, allowing only 13 points for the entire fourth quarter.
The Cavs finished with more threes, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots. However, the Thunder managed to get to the free throw line nearly twice as many times (29 to 15), converting over 86 percent of their chances. Per usual, this was once again due to a lot of converted jump shots by the Cavaliers that seemed necessary due to foul trouble in the post – Shaquille O’Neal was limited to 18 minutes, scoring five points. Thankfully, LeBron James seemingly couldn’t miss for stretches of the contest, draining several of his leg-kick, visually off-balance three-pointers. You know, those shots that you get livid about until they go in? Yeah, those…
On the more positive front, after 19 turnovers in the previous four games, James only turned the ball over once last night. This was only the third time this season where James had fewer than two turnovers.
From the bench, Anderson Varejao pulled down 10 rebounds as Jamario Moon had nine points, four rebounds, a three, a block and a steal.
The Thunder were paced by Kevin Durant (29 points, four steals, seven turnovers) and Jeff Green (26 points, four rebounds).
The Cavaliers will kick off the rest of their brutal December schedule tomorrow as they host the New Jersey Nets. It’s Shaq bobblehead night, kids!
(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)