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The Cavs bounced back from a shaky first half to beat the Portland Trailblazers tonight at the Q, ending a 3-game losing streak and running their home record to 10-1 on the season. As Austin Carr put it in the fourth quarter, it looked like the team “got their swagger back,” especially once the defense picked up in the second half. LeBron James, playing in his first game action since losing to New Orleans last Thursday night, led the team with 33 points and 10 rebounds. The league leader in fourth quarter points, LeBron once again delivered late in the game, scoring 14 points in the final twelve minutes.
The start of the game looked too familiar to Cavs fans, with the team once again getting off to a slow start, appearing disinterested and out of synch offensively. The Trailblazers, led by their dynamic backcourt raced out to an early 18-6 advantage. The 12-point lead was almost entirely earned by the backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and Canton, Ohio native CJ McCollum. The two combined for 16 of Portland’s first 18 points, on their way to 12-20 shooting for the first half. The Cavs had no answer for these two until going to a small-ball lineup midway through the second quarter to slow them down.
The second quarter started off much like the first, and the Trailblazers slowly took advantage of the lethargic Cavs, building their lead up to 18 points in front of the home crowd. The Cavs would go small from then until halftime, and the lineup produced better defense and more energy, making a 12-3 run and cutting an 18-point lead in half at 54-47 after two quarters of action. LeBron scored 11 in the quarter on perfect 4-4 shooting, to lead the team with 15 points at the break.
The third quarter was when the Cavs started to look like themselves again, applying much better pressure and forcing turnovers on the defensive end. They were able to force 11 turnovers in the third quarter alone, giving the coaching staff and fans alike a glimpse of how good they could potentially be on the defensive side of the ball. The Cavs held Portland to 7-16 shooting as well, and entirely erased the 9-point halftime lead, and instead taking their own lead into the fourth quarter. Kevin Love led the charge offensively in the third, scoring 10 of his 18 points.
The fourth quarter once again belonged to LeBron James. He scored 14 of his game high 33 points in the quarter, but also collected rebounds, blocked shots, and made the hustle plays that the team was certainly not making in the first half. He looked fresh, perhaps showing some added energy thanks to an extra day off after not playing in Miami on Friday night. Wherever the juice was coming from, the team needed it. At times this season, Kevin Love has been able to take over games offensively, but the fourth quarter is being proven to belong to the kid from Akron. In perhaps the biggest sequence of the game, Portland was able to cut the Cavs lead to 3 after a Matthew Dellavedova flagrant foul and two free throws from Miles Plumlee, and then a jumper by Lillard. LeBron’s response after the lead was cut was to nail a 3-pointer of his own, and then step in on defense and take a charge to force Plumlee to the bench with 6 fouls. The game was in hand after that, and it was clear that the leader of the Cavs is willing to do whatever it takes to win.
The Cavs have another two days of rest before traveling to Orlando on Friday to face the Magic and hopefully build on the solid second half they played tonight.
Click “Next” to see all the highlights from tonight’s game!
Matthew Dellavedova drives baseline and gets caught with the shot clock down and no one to pass to. Delly attempts to line himself up with the basket, and shoots a high-arcing jumper…that goes in!
Matthew Dellavedova gets outrebounded by the bigger Mason Plumlee. Plumlee makes a move at the basket, but Delly had none of it, throwing Plumlee down on the move and earns himself a flagrant foul.