The Blazers were led by another monster night from LaMarcus Aldridge despite a slow start (32 points, 18 rebounds, 4 assists), with support from Damian Lillard (28 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) and Wesley Matthews (15 points, 4 assists). Also, Lillard did this:
First Quarter: After the long break, the Blazers switched up their defensive patterns, mixing in some zone. It was effective, if not for the fact that recently-acquired Cavalier Luol Deng was on fire. He hit four consecutive shots to keep Cleveland close despite Portland's nice start.
Cleveland 27, Portland 26
We held the opponent under 30 in the quarter? Is this real life?
Second quarter: Terrible opening stretch for the Blazers, as the second unit struggled against the Cavs, who easily took control. At one point, they completed a unique three point play: 1.) Make one free throw, miss the second. 2.) Get the offensive rebound on the free throw, get fouled. 3.) Miss both free throws, but tie up the offense rebound for a jump ball. 4.) Grab the tip from Portland, then hit a layup. Easy 3 points. Meanwhile, the Blazers kept missing three-pointers. Cleveland pushed the lead to 8, only for the Blazers to close it to 2. But the shots stopped falling again, and Cleveland slowly rebuilt a lead... only to watch Lillard hit consecutive three's to tie it up. He had 20 points by halftime and the Blazers headed to the locker room with the lead.
Portland 54, Cleveland 50
Nice to be winning a game that feels like we're losing.
Third Quarter: It took 1 minute and 6 seconds for the Cavs to tie it up, sandwiched around a Batum turnover. The teams spent much of the quarter swapping the advantage, but the Cavs took advantage of Blazer substitutions to jump ahead by 6 with two minutes left. Aldridge took control to tie up the game with 30 seconds left, and after a defensive stop, Mo Williams missed a three-pointer. Aldridge grabbed the rebound, saw the wind down, and turned around for a fadeaway as the horn sounded. Swish.
Portland 77, Cleveland 75
I don't know if we are gonna make rice's keys to the games
Fourth Quarter: CJ McCollum started the quarter with a turnover, but followed it up with a nicer floater in the lane. Cleveland kept things close as Tristan Thompson got open for an unguarded dunk... or so he thought. Thomas Robinson erased the dunk from behind, and at the other end, Mo nailed a three-pointer. Suddenly down by 6, Cleveland called timeout and brought in their starters. In 20 seconds, they closed the gap to 2, followed by a McCollum turnover. That brought the Blazer starters back. They couldn't get anything started, and the Blazers called timeout with the game tied at the halfway point.
Out of the timeout, Portland forced a miss, but after the rebound Aldridge passed the ball to Deng then fouled him. Ouch. A Lillard three pulled Portland ahead, but another ugly turnover gave the Cavs the lead again. On the next possession, a broken play led to Aldridge stuck behind the three point line, so he launched one.. and hit it. Aldridge's free throws gave the Blazers the lead, and after Deng missed, Lillard worked the two-man game to Aldridge, who nailed a jumper for a 4 point lead with 2 minutes left. After another defensive stop, Aldridge left Thompson in the dust, rolling down the lane for a layup and a 6 point lead with 90 seconds left! Cleveland called timeout. Kyrie Irving missed a tough three as the clock rolled under 1 minute. At the other end, Matthews puts up a three... and the fans knew they could start focusing on where they parked their car. While they mulled that over, the Blazers stopped Cleveland again, and Lillard swished a three-pointer. Say goodnight, Cleveland.
After the game was tied at 96 with 2:31 left, these were the next two minutes. Go ahead, count the "Aldridge's":
2:31 96-97 LaMarcus Aldridge makes free throw 1 of 2
2:31 96-98 LaMarcus Aldridge makes free throw 2 of 2
2:15 96-98 Luol Deng misses 24-foot three point jumper
2:15 96-98 LaMarcus Aldridge defensive rebound
1:55 96-100 LaMarcus Aldridge makes 19-foot jumper (Damian Lillard assists)
1:44 96-100 Kyrie Irving misses 20-foot two point jumper
1:43 96-100 Robin Lopez defensive rebound
1:28 96-102 LaMarcus Aldridge makes driving layup
1:28 Cavaliers Full timeout
1:16 96-102 Kyrie Irving misses 23-foot three point jumper
1:15 96-102 LaMarcus Aldridge defensive rebound
0:58 96-105 Wesley Matthews makes 25-foot three point jumper (Damian Lillard assists)
0:49 96-105 Anderson Varejao misses 18-foot jumper
0:47 96-105 LaMarcus Aldridge defensive rebound
0:30 96-108 Damian Lillard makes 25-foot three pointer
The big road trip is here. Starting Friday, the Blazers have a four-games-in-five-nights stretch, visiting San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and Oklahoma City. Batten down the hatches, it's go time.
But for now, stay tuned, because Dave and Ben have plenty more from tonight's game.
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