NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 23rd (All times eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (24-19) at Cleveland Cavaliers (33-11), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The top dog in the East takes on the West's most improved team Saturday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Cavs sent a message Thursday night, finishing a season sweep of the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers when LeBron James' layup in traffic with 40.5 seconds to play gave Cleveland the lead for good as the Cavaliers rallied past Los Angeles, 93-87, at Quicken Loans Arena.
James scored 37 points with nine assists and five rebounds, while J.J. Hickson notched a double-double with 11 points and a career-best 14 rebounds and Shaquille O'Neal added 13 points and six boards. Anderson Varejao added 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Cavaliers, who have won the first two games on a three-game residency.
"I thought we did a decent job of grinding this game out. It wasn't a pretty game; it was an ugly game, but our guys had a physical presence, especially defensively, throughout the ball game," said Cavs head coach Mike Brown.
James picked up the slack in the backcourt in the absence of Mo Williams, who will miss the next four-to-six weeks with a left shoulder sprain. James scored 12 straight Cleveland points down the stretch.
The Cavs backcourt took another hit in the contest, however. as Delonte West fractured his left ring finger in the game. West will not be available tonight and will be listed as day-to-day from there. His finger will be re-evaluated early next week once the swelling goes down.
Cleveland, which is one-half game behind the Lakers for the NBA's best record, also beat the LA on Christmas Day, 102-87, at Staples Center.
The Thunder, meanwhile, lost for the first time on a four-game road trip in Memphis last night. Rudy Gay nailed a pull-up jumper with 1.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of that one, lifting the Grizzlies to an 86-84 victory over Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant had 30 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder, which had won its previous three games and fell to 2-1 on the trip. Jeff Green logged 15 points and James Harden added 13 in defeat.
"This was a good defensive game. We just couldn't hit any shots towards the end," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said.
Durant extended his franchise record by scoring 25-plus points in 17 straight games, and owns an NBA-best 24 games with at least 30 points this season. Durant's explosiveness has allowed Oklahoma City to already exceed last season's victory total of 23.
The Cavaliers have taken three straight over the Thunder.
01/23 10:46:17 ET