OKC Thunder coach lauds Aleksej Pokusevski for holding his own against Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and the Cleveland Cavaliers worked their way around Aleksej Pokusevski and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday en route to a 110-102 victory.

Still, Pokusevski’s performance against the Cavs’ big men had Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault raving about the third-year pro.

“Mobley and Allen are really active and bouncy in the paint,” Daigneault said. “I thought (Pokusevski) hung in there physically with them, which was good because they’re so strong down low.”

Coming into the game, Allen and Mobley were expected to give Oklahoma City’s frontcourt fits as they clearly had the weight advantage. Allen is listed at 6-foot-9 and 243 pounds while Mobley is listed at 215 pounds. On the other hand, Pokusevski, the Thunder’s de facto starting center, has a listed weight of 210 pounds.

Both Cavs stars had dominating performances, with Allen turning in 21 points and 11 rebounds on 7-for-9 shooting. Meanwhile, Mobley posted 21 points and 12 rebounds, complementing his all-around game with two 3-pointers.

As for Pokusevski, the Serbian managed to hold his own and had one of his best games of the season with 16 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. However, it wasn’t enough for the Thunder to come away with the win.

They almost won after rallying to tie the contest 89-89 in the fourth quarter after being down by as much as 17 points at one point. But the Cavs starters displayed composure down the stretch. The loss was Oklahoma City’s second straight defeat after previously stringing together a three-game win streak.

Cleveland is likely hoping that the win on Saturday will give the team enough momentum to go on a win streak and gain some ground in the tough Eastern Conference. It currently has a 17-10 record and ranks third in the conference behind the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.

The squad has a good chance to come out with a victory on Monday as it will face the lowly San Antonio Spurs. However, it might be a bit challenging for the Cavs if star Donovan Mitchell remains out after missing the past two contests.

In Mitchell’s absence against the Thunder, Caris LeVert did an admirable job as he poured in a team-high 22 points.

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Orel is a freelance writer who is passionate about the NBA. He has followed the league since the late '90s and found increased interest in it in 2003 – when an 18-year-old prodigy from Akron, Ohio took the league by storm.