Westbrook, Durant lead Thunder past Cavs 95-75By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer Sunday, Mar 13, 2011
Westbrook began a personal 12-point scoring tear by crushing a two-handed jam in the third quarter that awakened his listless Thunder teammates and led Oklahoma City to a 95-75 win Sunday over Cleveland, leaving Scott to doubt his team’s toughness.
“I’m really starting to question what type of heart we have as a basketball team,” the coach said.
Westbrook scored 14 of his 20 points in the third quarter, helping the Thunder open a 20-point cushion and coast to an easy win. He began his one-man sideshow by delivering a dunk that stunned the Thunder, the Cavs, ushers, vendors, mascots and 19,000 fans.
Westbrook followed it up with five consecutive layups, spinning around or blowing past any Cleveland defender daring to cover him.
Scott was incensed that none of his players bothered putting a body on Westbrook.
“It was too easy,” he said. “He’s a great player, but it gets to a point as a team where enough is enough and somebody has to knock him on his (rear end). It’s as simple as that, and that’s where the heart part comes in. Or are you just going to keep backing down and taking it?”
Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer, had 19 points—nine below his average— but the Thunder hardly needed their superstar while improving to 19-6 against Eastern Conference teams.
Westbrook and Durant combined for 23 of Oklahoma City’s 25 points in the third. With his team up by 19 entering the fourth, coach Scott Brooks rested his two All-Stars. They spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench relaxing and laughing.
“We still wanted to play the right brand of ball no matter what,” said Durant, who had scored at least 20 in 16 straight games. “Play the right way, make the right passes, make the right rotations on defense. But it did feel good to sit a little bit in the fourth.”
The Thunder were leading 59-47 when Westbrook powered toward the basket and rose in the air. At first, it looked as if he was going to just lay the ball up, but he double-pumped and flushed it, posterizing three or four Cavs and leaving his teammates in awe.
Westbrook even caught himself off guard.
“I ended up jumping and moving the ball and finishing it,” he said. “It got us going.”
It finished the Cavs.
On Oklahoma City’s next possession, Durant complained about a non-call when he got pushed from behind and was slapped with a technical. After Cleveland’s Anthony Parker(notes) missed the free throw, Westbrook approached Durant, whispered something to his teammate and they slapped hands.
From there on, the Cavs couldn’t contain Westbrook.
“Once he gets it going, he’s tough to stop,” Durant said. “He did everything within the offense and everybody still looked good. They (the Cavs) were talking a little bit over there. That’s one thing Russ doesn’t really like. It kind of ticks him off a little bit.”
Later, Gibson had nothing but nice things to say about Westbrook.
“He put his stamp on the game,” Gibson said.
The Cavs are short-handed, playing without injured starters Anderson Varejao(notes) and Antawn Jamison(notes). They were also missing point guard Baron Davis(notes), who left the team a few days ago to be with family in Los Angeles following the death of his grandmother.
After scoring 10 in the first quarter, Durant was out as the Thunder, who have many more weapons than just him, opened a 20-point lead with little resistance from the Cavs.
Oklahoma City seemed to be going through the motions, and Cleveland seized a chance to cut into the lead. Parker’s 3-pointer in the final second of the quarter brought the Cavs within 50-38 at halftime, but Westbrook took matters into his own hands in the third.
“That’s what he does,” Brooks said. “He’s a terrific player that’s improving every day.”
Notes: Thunder F Kendrick Perkins(notes) hasn’t played since coming over in a deadline-day trade from Boston because of a sprained left knee. Perkins is close to making his debut. He went through a full practice Thursday. … Scott hopes Davis will rejoin the team on its upcoming West Coast trip. Cleveland visits the Clippers, Davis’ former team, on Saturday. Davis’ grandmother, Lela “Madea” Nicholson, died last week. Her funeral is Tuesday. … Cavs G/F Christian Eyenga(notes) needed four stitches to close a cut he got during practice Saturday.