The Cleveland Cavaliers used a 35-point second quarter to rout the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, giving coach Tyronn Lue and the Cavs a big statement win, 115-92, over a primary championship contender.
It was Cleveland’s second significant win over a championship contender. A few games into Lue’s coaching career in January, the Cavs defeated the San Antonio Spurs by 14 points, but Sunday’s road victory over the Thunder was simply a dominant performance and a true statement of a win.
LeBron James (25 points, 11 assists, five rebounds) and Kevin Love (29 points, 11 rebounds) led the Cavs. Kevin Durant recorded 26 points and Russell Westbrook nearly finished with a triple double of 20 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists in the loss.
Here are five things to know about Cleveland’s dominant win over the Thunder:
No flu game: A marquee point guard matchup between Kyrie Irving and Westbrook didn’t last for long. After failing to stay in front of Westbrook in two straight possessions to start the game, Irving switched to defending Dion Waiters. But then after nine lackluster minutes in the first, Irving left the game in the second quarter with flu-like symptoms.
He did not return to the game. Irving finished with two points (1-for-5 shooting and 0-for-1 from 3-point range), one rebound and an assist.
No Kyrie, no problem: Without Irving, the Cavs turned to Matthew Dellavedova but he was on a minutes restriction with a sore hamstring. The Cavs were also without Mo Williams and Iman Shumpert with both players sidelined by injuries. So in the second quarter, Lue turned to a big lineup that included James Jones, Love, Tristan Thompson, Richard James and LeBron James, who ran point. This lineup worked wonders as it gave the Cavs plenty of spacing and allowed LeBron room to attack, which he did seemingly at will.
What’s Love got to do with it: Love had one of this best games in a Cavs uniform, finishing with a monster double double of 29 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 50 percent from the field (9 for 18) and was aggressive from the opening tip, going right at whoever was guarding him. This aggressiveness earned Love several trips to the free-throw line, where he shot 11 of 12. With all of the rumors always surrounding Love’s tenure in Cleveland, this game typified how great the Cavs can be when Love is locked in.
Waiters can’t buy a bucket: Before the All-Star break, Waiters had been a decent player for the Thunder, starting in place for the injured Andre Roberson. Yet after the All-Star break, Waiters has been awful. He missed all of his shots in the Thunder’s loss to the Pacers on Friday and he only made on shot on Sunday against the Cavs. Waiters finished the game with four points, shooting 1 for 8 from the field and 0 for 3 from behind the arc.
Not a good look for Waiters or the Thunder. If the Thunder truly want to challenge the Warriors or Spurs in the West, they will need to get better production from the shooting guard position either from Waiters, Roberson (who returned from injury but didn’t play) and Randy Foye (who had a miserable debut with two points in just under 14 minutes).
J.R. Swish: There’s the good J.R. and then there’s the bad J.R. The Cavs got the good J.R. against the Thunder on Sunday. Smith played great on both sides of the ball and was quite accurate from long range. The enigmatic Cavs guard was 5 of 8 from 3-point range and finished with 15 points.