Damian Lillard uses his powers of super-breath. - US PRESSWIRE
In a back-and-forth battle, the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on a last-second Nicolas Batum three-pointer in double overtime. The road losing streak is over!
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (24 points, 11 assists), Nicolas Batum (22 points, 7 rebounds, and a huge three-pointer), LaMarcus Aldridge (21 points, 9 rebounds), and Wesley Matthews (11 points, 10 assists). The scoring was spread out tonight, as every player made a contribution, including the bench.
First Half: The game began just like every other recent game: The Blazers quickly fell behind. Plus, Aldridge picked up two early fouls, forcing lineup adjustments. Before long, Cleveland was enjoying dunks and layups in their half-court offense, to the delight of their crowd. Batum found ways to miss multiple dunks. Nothing complicated, just went for a dunk, and bounced it off the rim. The Blazers kept the game in single digits though, which helped them slowly crawl back into the game in the second quarter. Suddenly, a hero appeared: Joel Freeland. Wait, what? Joel came in late, scoring 6 quick points and working hard on defense/rebounding, pulling the Blazers within 1 at the half.
[Is] Nic shooting with one eye closed or just just on a ton of vertigo drugs?
Third Quarter: Cleveland open the second half with another open three-pointer. And Aldridge picked up his fourth foul in the first four minutes, replaced by Freeland. But right then, Damian Lillard caught fire. He hit a layup to tied the game quickly followed with two three-pointers and a layup. Combined with a Freeland dunk, Portland suddenly led by 6, and Cleveland needed a timeout. Some bad luck and bad defense cost the Blazers, as they unraveled yet again. They were outscored by 10, leaving them down by 4 going into the fourth.
Babbit rebounding well. I think he really is underrated in that department.
Fourth quarter: The Cavs continued to rebuild their lead. Every Blazer offensive possession ended with a miss or a turnover, and Cleveland completed an 11 point run to lead by 8 again. But that was the peak, as the Blazers again started to work back into the game. When another Lillard three cut the deficit to one, Cleveland called timeout. The Blazers briefly took the lead, but the teams traded baskets down the stretch, neither able to pull away.A Batum three gave the Blazers a three point lead, but within seconds they were down two, after more awful defense made the Cavs look like title contenders. With 30 seconds left, Aldridge gained a key offensive rebound, getting fouled as he attempted a a putback. However, the Cavs mistakenly goaltended the shot, tying the game after LMA missed the free throw.
After the Cavs committed a shot clock violation, the Blazers got a chance at finally winning a game on this road trip, with 13 seconds left. They gave the ball to Lillard, who missed a poor shot at the buzzer. And we headed to overtime.
You can't stop Jeremy Pargo. Only hope to contain him.
Overtime: As if on queue, Pargo immediately nailed a three for the lead. The Blazers fought back, with a Lillard three giving them the lead. However, a poor-shooting Dion Waiters hit an open three to regain the lead. Lillard was fouled and grabbed the lead back with free throws. Waiters gets an open floater to give Cleveland the lead, but Lillard set up an open Matthews for three, giving the Blazers back the lead with 1:22 left. Pargo's free throws tied the game with 1 minute left.
Lillard committed an awful turnover, but Cleveland botched a fast break. With a second chance at life, Matthews drove the lane, and when Anderson Verejao committed, snuck a pass to Aldridge for a dunk and the lead with 25 seconds left. The Blazers got a stop, but couldn't get a rebound, and the Cavs made them pay, tying the game with 7 seconds left.
With another chance at the win, the Blazers gave the ball to Lillard. He missed a three, but Batum grabbed the rebound, shot a fadeaway as the buzzer sounded... and it went in! But on reply, the ball was still in his hands for the red light. It's double overtime time.
Double Overtime: Batum and Hickson combined to give an early lead, only to give up a slam at the other end. But 4 unanswered Blazer points forced a Hickson timeout. Cleveland returned the favor, tying the game with 1:49 left. Batum hit a two with a toe on the three point line, but Cleveland hit a three to take the lead again. A Lillard jumper gave the Blazers the lead, but Zeller did the same at the other end. Portland called timeout with 52 seconds left.
The Blazers gave the ball to Lillard, who lost the ball out of bounds with 36 seconds left. However, Zeller traveled to give the Blazers a chance with 19 seconds left to finally pick up a win. However, a missed Aldridge jumper and Hickson putback left Cleveland with free throws. They missed one, and Portland had a chance to tie (or win with a three-pointer) with 2.5 seconds left.
Batum for the 3 and the win.
In desperation, Batum shot a corner three while moving sideways... AND HITS IT! The Cleveland crowd is in complete shock, as the Cavs get a last chance with 0.2 seconds left, but it was too late, the Blazers win!
The next game is Monday afternoon, a 4pm game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Stay tuned later for Dave's surely-fascinating analysis of tonight's game. -- Tim
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