In a Nutshell
The Blazers dodge a very slow-moving bullet, playing footsie with the Cavaliers instead of basketball for three quarters. Then Andre Miller and Wesley Matthews lead the Portland offense through an average fourth period while Cleveland blows multiple opportunities to take advantage, truly earning the Worst Streak Ever title.
Please do not make me dissect this game. Please. As someone who's been to Vegas a few times in July, I can say with some confidence that this was a Summer League game with bigger, faster players. Had the opponent been anyone but who they were Portland would have died a miserable death on the floor. As it was, the Blazers had to rely on abysmal defense on Cleveland's part followed by some inopportune offense negating Portland's own defensive deficiencies.
Let's just say that the Blazers were a step slow on defense from the opening tip. They let Cleveland score inside on multiple possessions, especially in the middle two quarters. Despite the leaky paint patrol, Portland couldn't seem to defend the three-point arc either. A 37-point second period by the Cavs led to 83 by the end of the third, within spitting distance of their season average for an entire game. The Blazers, meanwhile, feasted on a Cavaliers defense that overcompensated more than William Shatner's toupee. Whenever the ball went inside random Cavaliers would converge. Half the time Portland's player (usually LaMarcus Aldridge) would just laugh and score anyway. The other half the Blazers looped the ball outside for a three. Portland shot 12-19 from the arc in this game, an astounding 63.2%. It was more practice than pressure.
The score sat at 86-83 Portland going into the fourth. The aforementioned Miller-Matthews duo blasted the Cavs, Matthews with drives and Miller via the mid-range jumper. Portland had a 107-98 lead with 3:30 left. Then the Blazers started chucking wild shots against the clock and the Cavs threw everything they could at the hoop. Portland's shots missed. Cleveland's bounced in. All of a sudden--hold onto that Pepto bottle--it was 107-105 Portland with 1:30 left. Then the Cadavalier curse came and bit Cleveland it its LeBronless butt. The Cavs had open shots in the final 90 seconds. They just couldn't hit any of them, most memorably a blown layup by Ramon Sessions with 38 seconds left that would have held the Blazer lead to 2 instead of 4. The Blazers made one shot and two free throws in the last 1:30. It was enough. Portland wins 111-105, breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Dante Cunningham got racked up by an errant elbow in the second stanza. He never returned to the game. Updates as they become available, if necessary.
Cunningham started tonight in place of Joel Przybilla.
This game just plain didn't count for anything besides avoiding utter embarrassment, so we're going to go light on these.
Cleveland proved themselves totally inept at containing perimeter players. As a result Wesley Matthews--all but unguarded--got his groove back. He shot 11-17 overall, 5-7 from the arc, and put up 31 points.
Andre Miller had a huge game with 13 assists and 6 fourth-quarter points.
Rudy Fernandez had his second straight good game with 6-10 shooting and 17 points in 27 minutes off the bench. The Cavs were sure running it at his defense in the fourth though.
Nicolas Batum scored 21 with 7 rebounds.
LaMarcus Aldridge notched 20 and 10.
Stats of the Night
- Did we mention 12-19 from the arc for Portland? Cleveland shot 10-23 themselves. It was the game for bombers.
- Blazers 53.8% shooting overall.
- The teams combined for only 33 free throw attempts, less than either team attempted in last night's Portland-Indiana game. This could mean two things. Either no defense was played or the refs wanted to get out of the building too.
- The teams combined for 83 makes. 55 of those were assisted. Again, not much defense tonight.
Odd Notes and Links
The Cleveland announcers were going crazy in the final three minutes trying to urge the Cavs to a win. You both understood it and felt sorry about it.