Cavs fall to Thunder
CLEVELAND — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 34 points, rookie Chet Holmgren added 16 and 13 rebounds in his second NBA game and the Oklahoma City Thunder made a furious rally in the final two minutes to stun the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-105 on Friday night.
The young Thunder trailed 102-93 with 1:56 left before getting three straight 3-pointers — one by Holmgren — in an 11-0 run and closed with a 15-3 flurry to wreck Cleveland’s home opener.
Gilgeous-Alexander made his first two free throws with 4.6 seconds left, and Oklahoma City’s smooth guard then stole the ball from Donovan Mitchell to end it as the Thunder opened the season with their second straight road win.
Mitchell scored 43 points while having to work extra hard with Cleveland missing All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen with injuries.
Mitchell made all the big plays for the Cavs, who were seemingly in control until the Thunder stormed back. After Oklahoma City won a replay challenge when Holmgren got his seventh block, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams and Holmgren hit their 3s in a span of 46 seconds.
Caris LeVert added 17 points — 15 after halftime — and Evan Mobley had 14 points and 15 rebounds for Cleveland, playing its first game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse since April 26, when the Cavs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the New York Knicks.
This one had a similarly brutal ending as the Cavs choked in the final minutes.
The No. 2 overall pick in 2022, Holmgren missed all of last season after sustaining a Lisfranc foot injury during a summer game. The Thunder finally have him on the floor and the 7-foot-1 Holmgren looked composed and comfortable in his 31 minutes.
Garland has been dealing with a left hamstring issue that bothered Cleveland’s point guard in Wednesday’s opener at Brooklyn.
Allen has been sidelined for several weeks with a bone bruise in his left ankle. While the center has been doing some individual work in practice, he’s not ready to play and the Cavs are going to continue to take it slow with Allen.
Down by 10 and shooting poorly from the outside (3 of 22 on 3s), the Cavaliers finally found their range in the third quarter after Isaac Okoro went out with an injury.
Mitchell and LeVert hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Cleveland went on a 22-9 tear to take the lead for the first time since the opening quarter.
The Cavs played a video tribute during the first timeout to honor Bobby “Bingo” Smith, a core member of a beloved Cleveland team in the 1970s who died Thursday at the age of 77. Smith’s No. 7 jersey was retired in 1979 and hangs from the rafters.
There was also a moment of silence for victims of the mass shooting in Maine.