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Late-Game Heroics Sink Thunder

LeBron James Celebrates in the 100-99 Win Over Oklahoma City (AP Photo) LeBron James Celebrates in the 100-99 Win Over Oklahoma City (AP Photo)

Originally Published: Jan 23, 2010 9:15 PM CDT

Vitals | Recap | Box Score

Gerald Goodridge
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- LeBron James dished out 12 assists, but the most important came with eight second on the clock, when he set up Daniel Gibson to hit a 3-pointer to take a 98-96 lead. Cleveland would hit their free throws and put away Oklahoma City 100-99.

Oklahoma City’s last four losses have come by a cumulative five points.

The Cavaliers jumped out to an early 7-2 lead, partially due to the early struggles of Kevin Durant. The third-year superstar missed his first four shots, providing a microcosm for the Thunder’s early offensive struggles.

Oklahoma City strung together run after run to close the lead to single digits early in the second quarter. Point guard Russell Westbrook scored five straight for the Thunder late in the quarter to close the deficit to three points.

James would not be silenced in the first half, making two of his three first-half 3-point shots in the last minute of the half to push the lead to 10.

He finished the game with 37 points, including 18 from behind the arc.

Nenad Krstic did his best to close the gap to start the second half, scoring eight of Oklahoma City’s first 11 points to bring the deficit back to single digits.

The Thunder closed out the third quarter on a 7-2 run to cap off a quarter in which they outscored Cleveland 35-21.

It was a battle throughout the entire closing fifteen minutes, but when Durant drove the lane for a lay in and James recorded his only block of the game, it was over.

Durant scored 34 points in the loss, his 25th game this season with 30 or more points, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

Oklahoma City comes back home for a four-game home stand, starting Jan. 27 against Chicago.

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