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News » Cavaliers-Thunder Preview

Cavaliers-Thunder Preview

Cavaliers-Thunder Preview
The Cleveland Cavaliers shut down one of the league's top offenses in their last game. Their next opponent doesn't figure to pose as much of a challenge.

Cleveland looks for a third straight win and its 14th victory in 15 games when it concludes its four-game road trip Sunday night against the struggling Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Cavaliers (22-4) are limiting opponents to 89.2 points per game this season, and have given up fewer than 100 points in 12 consecutive games, including Friday night's 105-88 victory at Northwest Division-leading Denver. The Nuggets entered Friday averaging 103.4 points, but shot only 43 percent from the field against the Cavs while matching their lowest point total of the season.

"To hold this team in this building to 88 points on 43 percent shooting is phenomenal," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "I have to give my entire team credit for doing that."

Starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas returned from a three-game absence to score 23 points against Denver, and LeBron James just missed his first triple-double of the season with 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Cleveland's run of stellar defensive efforts looks likely to continue against the Thunder (3-24), who are averaging only 93.3 points per game and own the worst record in the NBA. The Cavs dominated the Thunder at home on Nov. 26, winning 117-82. Cleveland shot 60.8 percent while limiting the Thunder to 35.4 percent from the floor. Ilgauskas had 17 points to lead six Cavaliers players in double figures. James had 14 points while playing just over 17 minutes in the blowout.

Prior to that contest, the former Seattle SuperSonics had won 20 of 26 meetings with Cleveland dating back to the 1994-95 season.

James has been on an offensive surge lately, averaging 32.7 points and shooting 62.7 percent (37-for-59) from the field over his last three games. He's averaging 27.4 points in nine career games against the Thunder/Sonics franchise.

After interim coach Scott Brooks shook up the starting lineup Friday night, the Thunder snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 91-83 home victory over Toronto.

Brooks started Nick Collison at center in place of Johan Petro, and gave Desmond Mason his second start of the season at guard. The team responded with its best defensive performance of the season.

"There's times where guys hit shots with good defense and there's times when you don't contest and they miss shots," said Brooks, who improved to 2-12 since taking over for the fired P.J. Carlesimo. "Tonight, we made them miss."

Collison made all five of his field-goal attempts and finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. Mason had a team-high 10 boards and added seven points.

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 24 points Friday, and is averaging 28.0 over the last six games. Durant scored 24 points in each of his two meetings with Cleveland as a rookie in 2007-08, but was held to 13 in last month's loss.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 21, 2008


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