NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, February 26th (All times Eastern)
Cleveland Cavaliers (22-36) at Oklahoma City Thunder (43-14), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Durant's MVP campaign took off around late December and the Oklahoma City Thunder will see if their leader can get them out of a bind Wednesday versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Thunder have lost two in a row since winning three straight and fell to 3-3 in the last six games with Sunday's 125-117 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Durant, the NBA's leading scorer with 31.6 points per game, had 42 points on 15-of-30 shooting and handed out 10 assists.
Serge Ibaka scored 20 points and veteran reserve Derek Fisher netted 15 points for Oklahoma City, which fell to 0-2 on a six-game homestand after losses to Miami and Los Angeles. Russell Westbrook had 13 points in his second game back from knee surgery.
The Clippers had a 44-34 advantage in the second quarter after the Thunder led 32-28 following the first 12 minutes.
"It's obvious we have to get back to playing defensive basketball," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. "We're a very good defensive team, but we didn't play that tonight. We gave up 44 points in a quarter and that's usually at times a half."
Oklahoma City still has Memphis, Charlotte and Philadelphia slated to visit Chesapeake Energy Arena and sports a 23-5 record in OKC this season. The Thunder had a nine-game home winning streak stopped in the loss to the Heat last Thursday.
The Thunder announced Tuesday that center Kendrick Perkins will miss at least six weeks because of a groin strain suffered against the Heat. Perkins needed surgery to repair the problem and the 2008 NBA champion with Boston has averaged 3.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 54 games this season.
Rookie Steven Adams started in Perkins' place on Sunday and had one point and six rebounds.
Oklahoma City, which has an average of 104.8 ppg this season, is 2 1/2 games ahead of San Antonio for the West's top seed.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have lost three in a row since a season-high six-game winning streak and the likelihood of stopping the skid Wednesday is slim.
The Cavaliers suffered a 99-93 loss to the Toronto Raptors Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena, as Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 33 points on 12-of-25 shooting. All-Star Game MVP Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 25 points and Spencer Hawes chipped in 15 and seven rebounds.
Tristan Thompson had 13 points for Cleveland, which has failed to score 100 points in each of the past three games and shot 41 percent. Toronto put the game away in the fourth quarter by scoring a 31-24 difference.
"It was a tough ball game," said Cavs coach Mike Brown. "I thought our guys did a nice job of coming out in the second half, fighting to get back in the ball game and taking the lead."
Cavs talented reserve guard Dion Waiters missed his fourth straight game with a balky knee and is still sidelined. Waiters is the highest scoring bench player in the East at 14.5 ppg.
Cleveland, which owns an 8-21 road record this season, has held opponents to under 100 points in a season-high eight straight games. Oklahoma City is averaging 104.8 ppg.
Cleveland and Oklahoma City split two meetings last season with each team holding serve as the host. The Cavs have won six of the last nine games between the clubs, but is 5-16 in the last 21 trips to the OKC.
02/26 10:25:15 ET