Dennis Schroder scored a season-high 28 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder picked up their sixth consecutive win, a 95-86 decision over the host Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma City was playing without point guard Russell Westbrook, who turned his left ankle Monday in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Missing their playmaker, the Thunder struggled to put away the struggling Cavaliers until an 11-2 run in the final 4:35.
Alex Abrines, who struggled from the field, took a feed from Paul George and hit a corner 3-pointer to break an 84-84 tie and give Oklahoma City some momentum with 4 1/2 minutes left.
George finished with 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting, and Jerami Grant scored 12 points. The Thunder were just better than 25 percent from behind the 3-point arc (7 of 27).
With Westbrook sidelined, Oklahoma City managed just 10 assists. The Thunder hadn’t had fewer than 18 assists in any game this season, and it was the fewest since Dec. 29, 2016, when they managed just nine in a loss to Memphis. The last time Oklahoma City had 10 or fewer assists in a win was Oct. 30, 2013, at Utah.
Rookie point guard Collin Sexton scored 15 points to lead Cleveland, which dropped its fourth game in a row.
Playing without forward Kevin Love for the seventh consecutive game, the Cavaliers were also without George Hill. The starting point guard was a late scratch because of shoulder soreness, two days after scoring 22 points in a defeat at Orlando. Then the Cavs lost forward Cedi Osman after less than six minutes due to lower back spasms.
Oklahoma City led 48-40 at halftime after George’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Thunder then doubled their lead with eight consecutive points to start the third quarter before Cleveland started chipping away.
The Cavaliers hit four of five shots during a 2:40 span early in the fourth quarter — including a pair of 3-pointers from Kyle Korver. The 13-0 run gave Cleveland its first lead since a couple of very brief one-point leads in the second quarter.
However, Oklahoma City started its late push with Abrines’ 3-pointer, and the Thunder settled down and once again took control of the game.
The contest was the first of a back-to-back for the Thunder, who will host Houston on Thursday. Westbrook made the trip to Cleveland and isn’t expected to be out long term.
Cleveland plays Saturday at Chicago.
—Field Level Media