The Cavaliers began their three-game homestand Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Cleveland hoped to return to their winning ways after their five-game winning streak ended against the Bulls Wednesday night.
Cleveland, who defeated the Thunder in Oklahoma City 107-102 last Saturday, led by as many as 17 points in this one as they held on to defeat the Thunder 94-87 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The Cavaliers (28-19)have won six of seven, while OKC(14-32), who was playing the second half of a back-to-back, has dropped five straight.
Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over OKC.
The Great for the Cavaliers:
-Evan Mobley had 15 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds. It was Mobley’s 14th straight game in double figures. The last Cavs’ rookie to get 17 rebounds was Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who accomplished the feat in 1998.
-Double-Double Darius: Darius Garland had his fourth straight double-double with 23 points and 11 assists. The third-year guard has six double-doubles in his last seven games. This was his 15th double-double of the season. Garland had a big third quarter as he scored 13 points on 5/6 shooting from the field.
-Jarrett Allen returned to his double-double way on Saturday. Allen had 14 points and 13 rebounds against OKC. He also added two blocks. It was Allen’s fourth double-double in his last five games.
Third Quarter: Cleveland led 47-45 at halftime but got hot in third. Cleveland shot 70% from the floor. The Cavs went on a 21-7 run in the third to take their largest lead of the game of 17. Cleveland would take a 78-68 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:
Turnovers: Cleveland had a season-high 23 turnovers, which led to 20 Thunder points. The Cavs were very sloppy Saturday night. You can get away with that against OKC, but not against the better teams in the league. Garland was the biggest culprit with eight turnovers.
Free Throw Shooting: The Cavs shot 18/35(51.4%) from the line. That’s not good, and on most nights, that could mean a loss.
Three-point Shooting: Cleveland could not buy a three-pointer. They shot 6/27 from deep. Again, shooting that bad from downtown would get you beat on most nights.
Lauri Markkanen: He left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did return. It did not look good for him. However, according to cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, X-Rays were negative and thought is Markkanen has a high-ankle sprain.
Before the injury, Markkanen was playing well as he came off a 28-point performance against the Bulls Wednesday night. Hopefully, he’ll be back sooner than later.
OKC gave the Cavs a challenging game last week, so it’s not surprising they gave Cleveland a tough game Saturday night. Wins are hard to come by in the NBA, so a win is a win, especially with the way the Eastern Conference is right now.
Cleveland, who is the fifth seed in the East and are two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the top spot in the conference, could win three in a row and possibly be the top spot in the East. However, they could lose three in a row and slide below the sixth seed as they are 1.5 games ahead of the seventh-seeded Hornets.
So, while it was not pretty, it still goes on the right side of the ledger.
“We’ll take the win, but that was a disappointing game for us,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Hopefully, it won’t be too long until Lauri is back with us. It’s over now, and we got the win, but we can’t afford to play that way. We didn’t play well.”
Cleveland continues their three-game homestand Monday night against the Knicks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Best of the Rest:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led OKC with a game-high 29 points to go along with nine rebounds and six assists.
Watch below as Bickerstaff and Garland talk win over OKC: