Thunder-Cavaliers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 02, 2013
While the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up a big win their last time out, all anyone wanted to talk about was Russell Westbrook's outburst. The team, however, doesn't appear too concerned about its star point guard's flare-up. Westbrook will look to do a better job of controlling his emotions when he and the Thunder head back out on the road Saturday night to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. Westbrook, the only player in the NBA averaging at least 20.0 points and 8.0 assists, got a bit out of control in the third quarter of Thursday's 106-89 win over Memphis. The three-time All-Star snapped at teammates and stormed off the court following a turnover with his team up by 25. "Russell's an emotional guy. He plays hard," said coach Scott Brooks, who benched Westbrook for the final eight minutes of the quarter. "He plays every night. He plays for his team every night. We can pick apart his game, like a lot of us have in the past. But Russell plays hard every night. "I have no problem that guys compete every night the way he competes. If that's becoming a problem, then we're all in this for the wrong reason." Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists, also downplayed the situation. "It was a disagreement," he said. "This is the game of basketball. You have so many different emotions on one team. You're going to have disagreements. It wasn't the first. It's not going to be the last. "You've just got to know how to respond to each other. I think we always do a great job of that." The Northwest Division-leading Thunder (35-11) certainly don't appear to have any problems with chemistry as they average a league-high 105.7 points and own the NBA's second-best record. Oklahoma City's 15-8 road mark is the league's best. After dropping three of the final five on their recent six-game trip, the Thunder should have a good chance to get back on track in Cleveland. They beat the Cavaliers 106-91 at home Nov. 11 behind 27 points, 10 assists and four steals from Westbrook, who also committed a season high-tying eight turnovers. The Thunder also cruised to a 95-75 win in their most recent visit to Cleveland on March 13, 2011. The Cavaliers (13-34) have followed up a season-best three-game winning streak with back-to-back losses, falling 108-95 to Golden State on Tuesday and 117-99 at Detroit on Friday. Tristan Thompson, averaging 18.0 points over his last five games, had 19 and nine rebounds against the Pistons, but Cleveland was still outscored 62-42 in the paint. "We came out soft, and we played that way for the whole game," said Kyrie Irving, who averaged 35.7 points during the win streak before scoring 14 in each of the last two. "I let things that happened in the game bother me, and I got disinterested and let the game get away from me. I can promise that won't ever happen again." The Cavaliers, who rank last in the league in allowing opponents to shoot 47.4 percent, let the Warriors and Pistons hit a combined 53.9 percent. "Maybe we need to go back to 2 1/2 or three-hour practices and run up and down the floor," coach Byron Scott said. "I asked our guys if they were content being 13-34, because if they are, let me know and we can make some changes."
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