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Thunder top Cavs in prep for bad dudes

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Would they play or wouldn’t they? Turns out they would play but it wouldn’t matter. Oklahoma City beat the Cleveland Cavaliers with their big three 118-109 on Thursday night.

Oklahoma City improved to 31-23 on the season.

Yesterday Cavs head coach Tyrone Lue said he would probably rest his big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. He said the same thing this morning at shootaround. He didn’t though and the Thunder still attacked relentlessly.

The Thunder pounded the glass and attacked a tired Cavaliers team that came in on the second night of a back-to-back. Oklahoma City outrebounded Cleveland 51-35. Russell Westbrook’s 12 rebounds fueled another triple-double. Steven Adams grabbed 13 points to compliment his 20 points. It was the fourth time this season Adams pulled down 13 rebounds.

Oklahoma City jumped up by double-digits for the first time early in the second of the quarter when Victor Oladipo struck gold, sinking the 10-foot floater. Oklahoma City led 38-27 with 10:16 left in the quarter.

Oladipo finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, and zero turnovers.

A lot of the first quarter and early second quarter surging was at the hands of Cameron Payne. Only the second year player out of Murray State continues to get his legs underneath him after missing much of the year with a foot injury. Payne had 15 points, only two off his career high.

Though, behind 16 first half points from James, the Cavs never quit. They were down by as many as 12 in the second quarter but fought all the way back. The Cavaliers tied it up on a Channing Frye three-pointer. Westbrook responded with a trey of his own, putting the Thunder up 44-41.

Kevin Love sank a layup with 25 seconds left, putting Cleveland up 57-55 at halftime. It was the cap on a 12-4 spurt by the Cavs.

A Sabonis finger roll put the Thunder ahead 63-61 early in the third quarter. That was followed by a Westbrook put back and back-to-back free throws. The Thunder had pushed the lead out to 79-71 with 3:29 left in the third.

Oklahoma City leading 85-82 after three quarters never really let the Cavs get back in front as the Cavs only were within 99-all with 5:46 remaining.

However, Westbrook said enough. Eight straight points from the triple-double king of the year put Oklahoma City out in front 107-101 for good. An Oladipo running lay-in off a Westbrook assist made it 111-101 with 2:08 remaining gave Westbrook the triple-double.

Westbrook finished with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. That is Westbrook’s 26th triple-double and 63rd of his career. Westbrook, the league’s leading scorer, did not make a field goal until halfway through the second quarter.

Oklahoma City will now welcome, begrudgingly, the Golden State Warriors to Chesapeake Energy Arena. It’ll be the return of David West to Oklahoma City since joining the Warriors. West last saw the ‘Peake in a Game 6 as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Transition: B

Oklahoma City only outscored the Cavaliers 16-14 in transition but it was the consistent running where we saw Oklahoma City really punish Cleveland. It was a consistent onslaught from the opening tip-off. You can tell how much it bothered the Cavs, too.

Third Quarter: A

Oklahoma City who came into the game, the fifth worst team in terms of third quarter productions. They were just abysmal. However, they game out and grabbed the lead early and held on. They actually outscored Cleveland 31-26 in the frame.

Pound the Glass: A+

The Cavaliers stood no chance. Adams and Westbrook almost outrebounded the Cavaliers on their own, combining for 25 rebounds. Overall, Oklahoma City outrebounded the Cavs 51-36. Andre Roberson and Oladipo both also threw down seven rebounds a piece to help out.

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