The Cleveland Cavaliers became the NBA's version of lovable losers soon after LeBron James fled Northeast Ohio for South Beach. After going 61-21 last season, the second best regular-season finish in the franchise's 41-year history, the Cavs are now an NBA-worst 12-52 entering today's game against the Thunder.
The Cavs lost an NBA record 26 straight games, a streak spanning Dec. 20 to Feb. 9. The skid tied the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the longest losing streak in major American pro sports history.
Although Cleveland is just 8-24 at home, the Cavs have clinched notable victories inside Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland has home wins over Boston, Philadelphia, Memphis, New York and the L.A. Lakers. The Cavs defeated the Knicks twice in Cleveland. Cleveland also lost to Chicago by only five at home.
The Thunder franchise, meanwhile, has lost five straight games at Cleveland, with its last win coming March 2, 2005, when the team was the Seattle SuperSonics.
The Cavs, however, have now lost four straight at home after winning three of five inside Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland also has a host of injuries. Baron Davis' status is uncertain following the death of his grandmother. Semih Erden (right adductor strain) and Luke Harangody (hip pointer) are questionable and Antawn Jamison (broken finger) and Anderson Varejao (foot) are out.
COLLISON QUIETLY CHIPPING IN
With Serge Ibaka being inserted into the starting lineup, veteran forward Nick Collison has picked up his scoring to help the second unit.
Collison has scored at least 10 points in four of the past five games. Collison had scored in double digits only three times in his first 50 games.
“Nick was a scorer in college. He can score,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We don't need it night in and night out. But he does so many things that we kind of lose the fact that he knows how to play.”
In the last four games that Collison has scored at least 10 points, he's made 20 of 25 shots (80 percent). It's a trend that could continue.
“When he sets good screens, the (opposing) big has to help,” Brooks said. “And Kevin (Durant) and our shooters have to continue to look for him because it loosens up the defense.”
DUNK YOU VERY MUCH
Durant lit up when asked about his impression of Russell Westbrook's breakaway windmill dunk Friday against Detroit.
“It was big time, probably one of the best I've seen this year,” Durant said. “He took off. We've seen him do one-hand and two-hand dunks. But that was pretty creative. Maybe he should have been in the dunk contest.”
The flush is one Westbrook routinely does while horsing around after practice. He's just never attempted such a high degree of difficulty dunk in a game.
“I didn't think he would be man enough to do in a game,” Durant said. “But it was a good highlight for us.”
THUNDER AT CAVALIERS
When: Noon Sunday
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
TV: FS Oklahoma (Cox 37, HD Ch. 722)
Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
* The Thunder defeated the Cavs, 106-77, on Dec. 12 in Oklahoma City.
* The Thunder is 18-14 on the road.
* Thunder center Kendrick Perkins is day-to-day while continuing to recover from a sprained knee.