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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder storm past Cavaliers in fourth

Jan 27, 2023; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first quarter at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 35 points to help the host Oklahoma City Thunder to a 112-100 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.

The Thunder have won six of their last eight games. The Cavaliers have lost four of their last six.

Darius Garland had 31 points and 13 assists to lead the Cavs while Evan Mobley added 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Cleveland was playing without Donovan Mitchell for the second consecutive game and the fifth time in six games with a groin strain. Mitchell aggravated the injury in Tuesday’s loss to the Knicks.

While Cleveland dominated inside early, the game began to shift in the second half, taking even more of a dramatic turn in the fourth quarter when the Cavaliers made just one of their first eight shots. Cleveland missed three layups during Oklahoma City’s 12-0 run that gave them control for good.

The stretch was bookended by big scores from Isaiah Joe, who tied the game with a 3-pointer and hit three free throws with 7:15 to play to put the Thunder up 90-81.

Gilgeous-Alexander has done much of his damage after halftime this season but scored 16 first-quarter points and had 21 at halftime.

Gilgeous-Alexander’s ability to get to the free-throw line benefited the Thunder early, as eight of his first-quarter points came on free throws.

The Cavs stuck tight early, despite missing all of their first 10 3-pointers. Cleveland didn’t make a shot from beyond the arc until nearly seven minutes into the second quarter.

The Cavs had plenty of success inside the arc, though, going 11 of 16 inside the line in the first period.

Cleveland hit 6 of 9 shots — all from inside the arc — during a 13-2 second-quarter run that put it up by six.

The Cavs stretched their lead to 10 before Gilgeous-Alexander’s step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the deficit to 54-47 at the break.

Gilgeous-Alexander had eight assists on the night, including three in the fourth. Jalen Williams added 17 points.

Cleveland was also without Kevin Love (back spasms) for the second consecutive game. Oklahoma City’s Luguentz Dort missed the game with a strained right hamstring.

–Field Level Media