James, Cavs outgun Thunder

LeBron James now has the Cavs pointed in the right direction

Nance is able to smother opposing primary ball handlers when they try to isolate him onto them, and that allows Cleveland to now be more matchup-sound in rotations. Defending the three-point line proved to be the Achilles heel for the Thunder as the Cavs were in a strong rhythm.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson (8) goes in for a dunk against the Boston Celtics during the second quarter at TD Garden.

Following the roster overhaul before the trade deadline, and ahead of their game in Boston on Sunday (Feb. 11), LeBron James said planned to test out the new Cavaliers look via National Basketball Association 2K18.

The Thunder and Cavaliers had a playoff-like match-up on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, with each team having moments of dominance in front of a raucous crowd at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder have one more game before then: a road tilt with the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. From there, their improved length should be able to do the work for them a good part of the time, which will result in better rebounding efficiency and steals, which provides easier offense. Melo hit some tough shots in my face.

Such was the case last night, as that quartet combined for 48 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the victory. The only problem? After scoring 15 points on 7/9 shooting in the first half, he only got three shots in the second half.

Westbrook shook off a 3/11 first half, going 4/7 in the final two quarters and helping the Thunder keep the game close.

Another scout told B/R the Cavs now are "right back in contention" in the conference, despite trailing the Celtics by 5 1/2 games and the first-place Toronto Raptors by six games as of Tuesday.

The bench had an excellent game in Cleveland's win.

It was Cleveland's second straight win since adding George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.in trades, and their fourth straight victory overall. Atlanta's Dewayne Dedmon contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds. Nance grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass.

Alex Abrines made his seventh start of the season, but went scoreless in 23 minutes of action. It was his 417th career 30-point game and fifth with at least 35 points this season.

"LeBron said before the game, 'Who cares about mistakes?" Houston has won for the 16 of its last 18 games.

J.R. Smith added 18 points for the Cavaliers, who lost to the Thunder 148-124 on January 20 with a very different roster.

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