Thunder's Big Three, Plus One Slams Cavaliers in Cleveland
By: A. Suave Francisco
Oklahoma City plays up to their competition, yet they play down to their competition as well. Fortunately, on Saturday afternoon they played up to their competition and took advantage of a slumping Cleveland Cavaliers team. OKC walloped Cleveland 148-124 at Quicken Loans Arena.
OKC's big three as a whole haven't found their rhythm yet. They are having a hard time settling into their roles while playing together. That was not the case in Cleveland. From the jump, it was the big three plus one. Steven Adams and Paul George started the game scoring the team's first 20 points with 10 apiece and that seemed to set the trend for the remainder of the game. Cleveland continued their downward slope towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference after giving up a combined 88 points to Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and George. Not including giving up 25 points and 10 rebounds to Steven Adams, who dominated whatever semblance of an inside game that the Cavs thought they had.
Adams made Cleveland's $80-plus million big man, Tristan Thompson look like an inexperienced rookie not only by how many points he scored but because of the way he dominated the offensive boards (five) on one of the best rebounding big men in the league in Thompson.
George finished Saturday's game with 36 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the floor, including 5-of-11 from three-point range. Anthony contributed in a monumental way, scoring 29 points and collecting 10 rebounds in an 11-of-19 shooting performance, including 3-of-6 from three. Most of these shots were created by Russell Westbrook who had one of the best all-around games of his career. No, the Brodie didn't manage another triple-double; he finished one rebound short but he did tally 21 points and 20 assists on 9-of-17 shooting. Not only did he obviously shoot well, he got his teammates involved in the best way as well.
Entering Saturday's ABC televised game, James just needed 25 points to reach 30,000 for his career. George was his primary defender and held him to just 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting, which isn't bad for James by any means but a place where he thrives is the free throw line and he only visited the line on two occasions where he shot 2-of-4. Subsequently, James has to wait to reach his 30,000 point milestone on the road, instead of in front of his home crowd. He was also a team-low, -33 plus/minus.
148 points weren't only the most points scored by the Thunder this season, they were the most points scored against a LeBron-led team in his long NBA tenure. The Thunder won their fourth straight in dominating fashion on national television and improved to (26-20) on the season. They'll face the (17-29) Brooklyn Nets who just got their point guard, D'Angelo Russell, back following an injury.