Posted November 10, 2012 on AP on Fox
The Oklahoma City Thunder are starting to pile up wins, but Kevin Durant still feels the defending Western Conference champs need to start games better. The Cleveland Cavaliers need to find a way to sustain their first-quarter success and improve their defense. Oklahoma City goes for a fourth consecutive victory Sunday night when the Cavaliers continue their season-high six-game trip. Coming off their first back-to-back sweep of the season, the Thunder (4-2) will play their fourth game in six days on Sunday, with another game Monday at Detroit. Durant, though, is expecting a more energetic start against Cleveland (2-4) after he and Russell Westbrook went scoreless for the first 10 minutes of Friday's 105-94 victory over the Pistons. "It was one of those games where you just have to fight through. And I think we did that the past two nights (Oklahoma City won 97-91 at Chicago on Thursday)," Durant told the Thunder's official website. "We have to find a way to come in with a lot more energy to start the game versus Cleveland, and we'll be fine." However, the first quarter has been Oklahoma City's worst in terms of offensive production. The Thunder are hitting 45.2 percent of their shots and averaging 24.0 points during that period. The first three minutes have been particularly challenging, as Oklahoma City is scoring an average of 4.8 points on 40 percent shooting. Cleveland is one of the NBA's best in that opening 180-second span, making 58.6 percent of its shots and scoring an average of 7.0 points. Coach Byron Scott realizes the Cavs' offense can't keep clicking like that to the final buzzer, but he does expect much better defense throughout the game. The Cavs are ranked among the league's worst in scoring defense (103.0 ppg) and field goal defense (50.1 percent) after giving up a 26-point second-quarter lead in Friday's 107-105 loss to Phoenix. "The story doesn't change. It's on the defensive end,'' Scott said. "Twelve good minutes, it's as simple as that. I thought from the second quarter on we just played lackadaisical, just real loose with the basketball (with a season high-tying 21 turnovers) and that team, they just kept playing hard.'' The Cavs can expect a similar effort from the Thunder, who are holding teams to 91.0 points on 39.6 percent shooting during their winning streak. "Defense, that's what we take pride in," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. Still, slowing down Kyrie Irving and rookie Dion Waiters could be a challenge for Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha. Irving is averaging 24.0 points with 8.0 assists during the first four games of the trip, while Waiters is averaging 19.0 points with 13 3-pointers in 23 tries. Thunder newcomer Kevin Martin is 16 of 31 from long range, but Durant and Westbrook are a combined 12 for 41 (29.3 percent). Durant is among the league's worst with 4.8 turnovers per game, while Westbrook is shooting a career-low 36.4 percent. Serge Ibaka, though, is giving Oklahoma City a nice offensive boost. The big man finished with a career-best 25 points Friday and has 77 in the last four games, which is second to Durant's 86 during that stretch for the Thunder. Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins could have their hands full with Cleveland's Anderson Varejao, who is scoring 14.0 points per game with 14.0 rebounds. In their last visit to Oklahoma City, the Cavaliers snapped the Thunder's 14-game home winning streak with a 96-90 victory on March 9.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Last Known Footage Of Kevin Durant And James Harden Hanging Out As Teammates

Click here to view the embedded video. Here’s Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant rapping at Fright Fest in Oklahoma City on October 26th, with party host James Harden practically attached to his hip. The video is a perfect snapshot of the closeness of the Thunder squad, capturing the Big Three’s very real camaraderie, while a full season’s worth of expectations danced...

Durant, Thunder win in Chicago again

Kevin Durant scored eight of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Chicago Bulls 97-91 on Thursday night. Durant iced the game with an off-balance jumper off one foot with 35.1 seconds to play. Serge Ibaka scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half, and had a team-high nine rebounds for the Thunder, who beat the Bulls for the third time in...

Starting 5: Durant drops Bulls

Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day. BREAKING: LAKERS FIRE MIKE BROWN 1: Durant does it again Kevin Durant. Do I need to say anything more? Durant took over the final moments of the fourth quarter in Chicago, making several difficult shots to sink the Bulls and secure a win for the Thunder. Durant scored...

Durant helps Thunder edge Bulls

CHICAGO (AP) -- Kevin Durant scored eight of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Chicago Bulls 97-91 on Thursday night. Durant iced the game with an off-balance jumper off one foot with 35.1 seconds to play. Serge Ibaka scored 15 of his 21 points in the first half, and had a team-high nine rebounds for the Thunder, who beat the Bulls for the...

Kevin Durant’s Fadeaway Jumper Vs. Chicago Bulls; Death Stare From Scottie Pippen

The Chicago Bulls were leading heading into the fourth quarter, during Thursday night’s game with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the game was even tied heading into the final minutes of the game, but that was until Kevin ” I have ice running through my veins” Durant took a few clutch shots. One of those [...]The post Kevin Durant’s Fadeaway Jumper Vs. Chicago Bulls; Death...

Pistons-Thunder Preview

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder opened a four-game stretch against Central Division opponents with a comeback victory. There may not be a need for heroics in the next one. Durant and the Thunder have won six straight against the visiting Detroit Pistons, who will likely be hard-pressed to avoid their worst start in 33 years Friday night. Oklahoma City (3-2) trailed...

Durant, Thunder hold off Bulls run

CHICAGO -- While the Chicago Bulls try to survive without Derrick Rose, the Oklahoma City Thunder is getting used to a new lineup. On Thursday at the United Center, an old standby got the job done. Kevin Durant scored 24 points, including six in the final minute, as the Thunder made a late surge to beat Chicago 97-91 at the United Center. The Bulls rose to the occasion most of...

Durant and Westbrook Carry Thunder Past the Cavs

THUNDER REACTION GAME 7 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers:  W (106-91) The Oklahoma City Thunder earned their fourth straight victory with a 106-91 win over the Cleveland Cavs at the Chesapeake Arena Sunday. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for 53 points while Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin scored in double figures as well. 1st QUARTER GAME NOTES The [...]

Thunder 97, Bulls 91

CHICAGO -- Kevin Durant scored 24 points, including six in the final minute, as the Oklahoma City Thunder made a late surge to beat the Chicago Bulls 97-91 Thursday at the United Center. The Bulls rose to the occasion most of the night without All-Star guard Derrick Rose, who is recovering from knee surgery. Veteran guards Kirk Hinrich and Richard Hamilton seemed inspired by the...

JbSmooth84.com Oklahoma City Thunder 2012-2013 Preview

After reaching the NBA Finals the Thunder knew the summer would bring about the time to make crucial decisions that will affect the team for years to come. The three headed monster of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden posed problems for teams who had slower point guards and [...]

Ibaka scores 25, Thunder beat Pistons

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Serge Ibaka scored a career-high 25 points, Kevin Durant chipped in a season-high 25 points and 13 rebounds, and the Oklahoma City Thunder broke in their new alternate jerseys by beating the winless Detroit Pistons 105-94 on Friday night. The Thunder scored nine straight points soon after Durant checked back into the game midway through the fourth quarter,...

Thunder Serge Past Pistons

Game 6: vs. DETROIT W (105-94) Fueled by a career, regular season-high 25 points from Serge Ibaka, the Oklahoma City Thunder knocked off the Detroit Pistons at the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City Friday. Slow Start For Durant and Westbrook Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant each got off to a slow start in the first quarter, keeping the [...]

Thunder 106, Cavaliers 91

Russell Westbrook banked in a half-court shot during a rough-and-tumble 27-point outing, Kevin Durant added 26 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-91 on Sunday night. Westbrook, a career 29 percent shooter from 3-point range, had made just 6 of 24 behind the arc to start the season and coach Scott Brooks suggested before the game that he needed...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.