Escaping Detroit with a game-winner from Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers (22-4) continued the road-trip and made a stop at the Quicken Loans Arena of a battle of star point guards: Lillard and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers (9-15). The Blazers battled left and right with the Cavs all night long going toe-to-toe but for the second straight game, Lillard drills the game-winning basket and Portland escapes Cleveland with a 119-116 win. The Blazers are now 11-0 against Eastern teams.
We’re going to skip to the second half here as I missed up until halftime…and that’s really where the game opens up.
The Blazers fell behind 59-55 going into the third. As awesome as the third quarter has been for Portland, Irving was flexing his muscles, quickly scoring eight points to put the Cavs up nine just moments after the break. All the energy was flowing for the Cavs until Lillard responses nicely with a three of his own and bursts into a 9-0 Blazer run and trading the lead. Wesley Matthews hits a midrange jumper to fully extend Portland’s lead to its largest of the game at 78-73 at the five-minute mark. It was Dion Waiters turn to light the fire; a couple of three-pointers and a corner make from Matthew Dellavedova ties the game again at 83 as the shot clock expires. As it was Waiters on one end, it was all LaMarcus Aldridge at the other; he caught fire and hit reliable jump shots to give the Blazers a 92-88 lead going into the final 12 minutes.
In a flash, Waiters scored nine points to take a five-point lead. Earl Clark added to the damage with a three of his own and lifts a 10-0 Cavs run all thanks to Waiters. Lillard wasn’t going to have any of it so he connects for an angle three to regain the lead at 97-96. Robin Lopez gets called for his fifth foul thanks to a clear flop from Anderson Varejao underneath but Aldridge comes back and hits a jumper right in his face: 101-99 Blazers.
Portland and Cleveland traded leads back and forth and no one wanted to die quietly. Another Lillard three added with one from Wesley Matthews and just like that Portland has 112-104 lead again with just fewer than two to play and a win in reach. Irving gets back to work: two quick three-pointers and an and1 all in transition cut the lead to two with 33 seconds left. Cleveland got the ball off a missed field goal from Aldridge, and gave it to Irving, who missed, but Varejao was there for the second chance points and ties at 116 with seven seconds on the clock. Just like in Detroit, Lillard took the ball but stayed at the top of the key and with seconds ticking away, he bombs a three-point shot with a heel barely touching the “C” decal at center court. The Q is stunned.
Who Was Hot
- Lillard Time knows no time zones. It’s universal: 36 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds, 8-12 from deep and 6-7 from the foul line. According to Blazers PR, his 36 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and eight 3-pointers is a first in the NBA since Jason Kidd in 1995. Lillard also sets season high in assists.
- LaMarcus Aldridge did the dirty work early in the fourth and hit a couple key possessions to keep the Cavs at bay: 26 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and tonight marked his 15th straight double-double for the three-time reigning Western Conference Player of the Week.
- Nice supporting cast of Wesley Matthews (19 points), Nicolas Batum (14 points, nine rebounds) and a special mention to Mr. Joel Freeland. Here’s a guy who played extended minutes due to Lopez’s foul trouble, and although his stats would say otherwise – zero points, seven rebounds – he affected shots, hustled for loose balls and was such a dog defensively. This was clearly Freeland’s best game of the season, an unsung hero tonight.
- Portland goes 15-33 from three, 22-25 from the foul line. Portland’s distance shooting wasn’t pretty at the start but it leveled out as time went on.
- Rebounds: Portland 56 – Cleveland 44
- Second chance points: Portland 35 – Cleveland 10, this is a biggie. Give those kudos to Lopez and Freeland.
- Blocks: Portland 5 – Cleveland 1
Who was Cold
- The Blazers had a tough time holding onto the ball for most of the game, had eight in the first quarter and totaled 14 for the night to six by the Cavs.
- Why the Cavs aren’t started Dion Waiters blows my mind. That kid is an animal: ties Irving with 25 points while C.J. Miles who starts ahead of him only had eight.
- Number one pick of the 2013 NBA Draft, Anthony Bennett played only seven minutes, made one single basket and never played again. However, undrafted out of St. Mary’s, Matthew “Matty” Dellavedova played ten minutes and was on the court in crutch time at the start of the fourth. I guess that’s what happens when you show up to training camp 20 pounds overweight.
Highlight of the Night
The entire upper Midwest just became the saddest place in America.
No time to bask in this one though, up at it tomorrow at 5pm with division rival Minnesota and Oregon-native Kevin Love. They will go for the second road sweep this season.