SGA’s 35 points enough to get past Donovan Mitchell-less Cavs in 112-100 wins

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder used a 21-8 fourth-quarter flurry to get past the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 112-100 win.

The run was led by a lineup that never played a single second together until tonight with the game tied at 78-78 to start the fourth quarter.

The Giddey-Joe-Kenrich Williams-Bazley-Muscala lineup outscored the Cavaliers 16-8 to start the fourth quarter.

By the time leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander checked in, he had an eight-point cushion to work with. By the end of the game, Gilgeous-Alexander finished with an efficient 35 points.

The Thunder enjoyed an efficient offensive performance. They shot 40-of-76 (52.6%) from the field and 10-of-18 (55.6%) from 3. They also enjoyed a busy night at the free-throw line, going 22-of-25 (88%) .

Despite being massively outsized in the frontcourt, the Thunder held their own inside the paint, only being outscored 56-50 by the Cavaliers. The Thunder also surprisingly out-rebounded the Cavaliers, 46-37.

Without Donovan Mitchell out, Darius Garland picked up the slack for his All-Star starting teammate. Garland finished with 31 points and 13 assists.

The other Cavaliers player with a huge night was Evan Mobley, who finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds — although, he was held to just five points in the second half.

As the home crowds grow larger by the game, the Thunder continue to make it worth their time with fun and impressive wins like Friday’s — even with the Cavaliers missing Mitchell.

“It’s been great. Fans have been incredible all year long,” Kenrich Williams said. “Us winning games is gonna draw attention… We got the best fans in the league.”

Let’s take a look at Thunder player grades.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A+

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Another game, another A-plus performance for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

This time around, Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 35 points on 12-of-21 shooting and went 10-of-11 from the free-throw line with nine of those attempts coming in the first quarter.

Gilgeous-Alexander also added eight assists, five rebounds and two steals.

What makes this highly-efficient 30-plus point performance more impressive than most is it was against the second-best defensive-rated team in the league.

The Cavaliers defense is manned by their lengthy frontcourt of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Despite that, Gilgeous-Alexander still went a respectable 8-of-13 from inside the paint for 16 points.

No matter what opposing defenses throw at Gilgeous-Alexander, he continues to put up huge scoring number games.

Jalen WilliamsB

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Friday showed a glimpse into what will happen once Jalen Williams’ three-pointer eventually falls.

Entering the game, Williams struggled from outside, shooting 29.3% from 3. Perhaps Friday could be the turning point as he went a perfect 3-of-3 from 3.

Overall, Williams finished with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting and three rebounds. This included arguably the best dunk of the Thunder season that saw Williams curl his way into a cutting dunk on two Cavs defenders.

Williams now has 50 dunks on the season and it feels safe to say he’ll have at least one impressive dunk a game at this point.

Aaron Wiggins A

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The Thunder keeps winning when Aaron Wiggins is on the court for the opening tip.

Following this win, the Thunder are now 8-0 when Wiggins starts. With Lu Dort out due to hamstring tightness, Wiggins was given the starting nod and was awesome for OKC.

Wiggins finished with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, with all his makes coming on layups. Wiggins also had seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“That’s a very impressive stat,” Gilgeous-Alexander said when asked about the Thunder being 8-0 in Wiggins starts. “If I was Wiggs, I’d use it a lot more.”

Josh GiddeyB

Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Giddey is noticing the growth of national and local attention the Thunder have received in recent weeks due to their success.

“You definitely feel it when the crowd is packed like tonight,” Giddey said on the Thunder’s recent buzz.

In January, the Thunder is 9-4. A large part of that has to do with Giddey’s improve play since the beginning of December.

In 25 games since Dec. 1, Giddey is averaging 17.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists on 50.7% shooting.

Against the Cavaliers, Giddey finished with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, six rebounds and three assists.

Five of Giddey’s six makes came from short jump shots inside of the paint. With the paint being hovered by defensive giants Mobley and Allen, Giddey adjusted to creative ways to create space for his shots.


Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire

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