Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/11/12
OKLAHOMA CITY -- In just his second year in the NBA, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving has a buzz about him. He is must-see viewing whenever he comes to an opposing team's city, and he is already considered a top-10 point guard in the league. However, when the Cavaliers came to Oklahoma City on Sunday, Russell Westbrook made sure to remind fans that their team still has one of the league's best floor generals. Westbrook led the Thunder to a 106-91 win over Cleveland, Oklahoma City's fourth straight victory. Westbrook led all scorers with 27 points, and he added 10 assists and six rebounds. But it was his timely baskets down the stretch that made the biggest impact for Oklahoma City (5-2). "My gut was telling me to keep him in there," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "I just felt that we needed his toughness in tonight's game and his 3-point shooting. He finally hit some 3-point shots. He's worked on and he will continue to work on it. One was a lucky shot, but other than that, they are shots he can make." The Cavaliers (2-5) whittled an 11-point halftime deficit to three, and they looked as if they were going into the fourth quarter with momentum on their side. However, Westbrook drained a half-court shot as time expired in the third to push the lead back to six points. "That hurt," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "I kind of relayed the message that we had a foul to give. We wanted to take the foul once they caught it and started dribbling up the court. Boobie (Gibson) said he just thought Russell was going to throw up a bad shot. I think that kind of shifted the momentum." Westbrook wasn't done. He hit consecutive 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to kick-start a Thunder blitz that Cleveland was unable to overcome. "It hurt, it hurt," Gibson said. "But what hurt more was when we came out of the timeout, we didn't bounce back and (we) really let them guys get a lead. And when you have a closer like Kevin (Durant), it's tough to come back from that." Scott wasn't concerned with how his team's offense would look in the game. He was more interested in seeing how his defense would perform against a dangerous Thunder offense. Scott didn't get what he was looking for from his team. "I thought we were OK," he said. "Anytime you allow a team to shoot 55 percent, you are not going to win a whole lot of games, so we have to continue to work on that. Transition defense, we have to continue to work on that." With Westbrook leading the way, the Thunder had five players score in double figures. Durant posted 26 points and eight rebounds, while Kevin Martin added 16 points. Serge Ibaka scored 14 points and blocked seven shots, and Kendrick Perkins contributed 10 points. "There's no question that we are at our best offensively when we share the basketball," Brooks said. "We've been doing it all year. Our assist numbers have been pretty good. There are going to be games when we are not as good, and there will be games where we are even better." Westbrook said, "Our defense is a good trend to have. Keeping teams under a certain amount of points per quarter is important, and at the same time, we are making shots." Irving scored a team-high 20 points for the Cavaliers, but he was held scoreless in the fourth quarter. Alonso Gee had 18 points for Cleveland, and Gibson scored 16 off the bench. "The biggest thing I'm looking for is I'm looking for somebody other than Boobie Gibson to step up off the bench," Scott said. "We need somebody else to step up. I'm going to stick with this option for a few more games and see how it works. If not, then I will go to a different option." Gibson said, "We always show spurts of what we are able to do. The growth of this team will show when we are able to be consistent and able to play a full 48 minutes game to game to game. That's when we will take the next step." Martin, who came to Oklahoma City last month in the trade that sent James Harden to Houston, continues to show he can score from anywhere on the floor since coming to Oklahoma City from Houston. His shooting range has expanded even more playing alongside Durant and Westbrook. "It is great," Martin said. "It's been a long time waiting (to play) on a team like this. It's a great group of guys from the organization to the players. Opportunities like this, you never know when you are going to get them, so you have to take advantage of them." NOTES: Cleveland's Anderson Varejao made the 400th steal of his career in the first quarter. He entered the day riding a streak of three straight double-doubles, though he missed the game Wednesday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors due to a sore knee. Varejao wound up with just six points, eight rebounds and six assists Sunday. ... The Cavaliers defeated the Thunder in the only matchup between the two teams last season, and Cleveland had won six of the previous nine meetings. However, in six of the games, LeBron James played for the Cavs. ... Despite the fact Westbrook was shooting a career-low 36 percent from the field entering the game, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks wasn't too worried about his star point guard. "It's so early, it's hard to judge your shooting percentage after six games," Brooks said. "But he does so many other things well for us. The shots are not falling, but he's defending and passing, and he's leading us. You can't worry about shots." ... Scott has been around some great point guards during his NBA career. He played alongside Magic Johnson and Mark Jackson and coached Jason Kidd and Chris Paul. Now he has second-year pro Irving on his team. "The one thing I said, I don't know a whole lot about big men, but I do know guards," Scott said. "And I know when I got a good one."
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