The Cleveland Cavaliers finally snapped their losing streak and got themselves back on track in the Eastern Conference, but it surprisingly wasn't down to the performances of their star player LeBron James. A season ago, the Cavaliers won 51 games, and were the second seed in the East.
ORLANDO (103): Simmons 5-10 6-8 16, Gordon 7-20 1-2 17, Biyombo 1-2 2-2 4, Payton 9-17 0-0 19, Fournier 6-15 4-5 17, Iwundu 0-0 0-0 0, Speights 1-2 0-0 3, Birch 2-3 0-0 4, Augustin 0-3 1-2 1, Mack 5-5 0-0 10, Hezonja 5-11 2-2 12.
Joel Embiid, who got named as an NBA All-Star, curved Rihanna on national television after having 26 points, 16 rebounds and six assists in a win against the Boston Celtics. I actually think the Thunder will come out on top with the win but I'll take the points for safety.
It was just Cleveland's fourth win in 13 games - and their first in five.
Payton finished with 19 points for Orlando (13-32), who have lost 28 of their last 33 games. The Thunder beat the Hornets, Kings and Lakers after dropping three in a row.
The Thunder are led in scoring by their point guard and the defending MVP Russell Westbrook.
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LeBron James scored 16 points as the Cavaliers carried a 67-47 lead into halftime and held a 23-point lead early in the third.
In Orlando's first 34 games - all games in which center Nikola Vucevic played - the team collected 75.7 percent of available defensive rebounds, according to the NBA's statistical database.
Throw in that LeBron - in his 15th National Basketball Association season - is eighth in the entire league in total minutes played, and his usage rate is 10th in the league when he is on the floor, and you can feel the burden on him.
The Cavaliers never shy away from making midseason trades for aging guards, and this season may be more of the same.
The Thunder will likely have to get by Minnesota, Houston and Golden State in that order to get to the NBA Finals. "(Coach Tyronn Lue) preaches to us to keep chasing the game and good things will happen". Bet the Oklahoma City Thunder +3.5 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon. Get your 100% signup bonus today.