LeBron vs. Durant when Cavs visit OKC

(SportsNetwork.com) - The game's two best players will be showcased Thursday night when LeBron James leads the Cleveland Cavaliers into Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the newly-healthy Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Cavs have won eight in a row, which is the third-longest current streak in the NBA. The Thunder have won three straight, five of their last six and are 3-1 since Durant, the reigning MVP, returned from offseason foot surgery.

Durant won his first MVP last season with James finishing second in the vote. Durant finished second the previous two seasons to James. The titles chase is no contest with LeBron up, 2-0.

The Cavs' winning streak reached eight this week thanks to a win in Brooklyn on Monday night, when James wore an "I Can't Breathe" shirt and met Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton.

One night later, the hoopla was less, but the opponent was tougher. Cleveland topped the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors, 105-101, at Quicken Loans Arena.

James joined Mark Price at the top of the Cavaliers' all-time 3-pointers made list in style. James' go-ahead triple with 48.1 seconds left lifted the Cavaliers to victory.

Toronto shot 58.1 percent (38-of-62) through the first three quarters and led by as many as 10 in the fourth, but Cleveland held the Raptors to a 30 percent (6-of-20) clip in the final frame.

The Cavs outscored them 20-6 in the final 8:37.

"In the fourth quarter we really amped up our defensive intensity," Cleveland head coach David Blatt said. "That was a tough, hard victory."

James finished with 35 points, Kevin Love posted 17 points and nine rebounds and Kyrie Irving added 13 points and 10 assists for Cleveland, which beat Toronto for the second time in five days.

The eight-game run is Cleveland's longest since it also won eight in a row in March 2010.

After a loss in New Orleans in Durant's season debut on Dec. 2, the Thunder have won three straight. Thursday's contest will be the stiffest challenge for a healthy OKC squad as its three consecutive victories came over the Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks.

The win over the Bucks on Tuesday was Durant's season home debut.

"To be out for so long and finally get a chance to play in front of our home crowd, it felt good," said Durant. "Getting my name called in the starting lineup, that was fun."

Russell Westbrook, who returned one game before Durant after hand surgery, combined with Durant for 51 points on Tuesday. Westbrook finished with a game- high 28 points, Durant scored 23 and both handed out seven assists in the victory.

Reggie Jackson donated 18 points off the bench and Serge Ibaka made all five of his shots and free throws for 15 points.

The two teams have split the previous eight meetings, but the Cavs have won two of their last three in Oklahoma City, including last season when James was on the Miami Heat.