The top scorer for Portland had a fantastic night, but it was not enough to top Kyrie Irving's career day.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 38 points and 11 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers without LeBron James, 99-94 Wednesday night at the Quicken Loans Arena.
Yet again, the Trail Blazers suffered a double digit deficit in the first quarter. Cleveland used a 9-2 run and an 11-2 run to build an twelve point advantage as Kyrie Irving scored 12 in the period (though on 3-of-11 shooting). Aldridge led the Blazers in scoring with seven, but Portland trailed by ten after one.
The second quarter was all about Irving, who only had nine points in the first meeting between Cleveland and Portland this season. Irving made that up in one period, scoring 16 of the Cavaliers' 23 points in the quarter to have 28 at the break. Aldridge had eight, and Nicolas Batum had five, but Portland was outshot from behind the three point line, ten to two. Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews combined to shoot 1-of-5 from three in the half. The one three taken by Matthews in the first half was his lowest output since he attempted zero January 16th versus San Antonio. Despite Irving's barrage, Portland trailed by just ten at halftime.
The rally began on schedule in the second half. Aldridge scored 16 in the period on 6-of-8 shooting, and Lillard had 8 as Portland cut the Cleveland lead to as little as three. Irving had 11 in the quarter to counter, and with both teams shooting over 50% for the quarter, Portland only got to within five after three quarters.
While the three point shot had been Cleveland's weapon all night, Portland used it to get the lead back in the fourth. Aldridge and Matthews hit back-to-back threes, giving Portland the lead with four minutes to play. Portland had a chance to extend it, but Lillard missed a short jumper and Chris Kaman turned over the offensive rebound. Irving hit two free throws on the other end to cut the lead to one. Aldridge hit a shot to re-extend the lead, and after an Irving miss, Aldridge took a shot, fought for the offensive rebound, and managed to call a timeout as he crashed to the floor. However, Matthews missed an open three, and Irving tied the game on the other end of the floor. After a Portland miss, Irving missed a three, only for Aldridge to foul Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov hit both free throws to lead 94-92. Aldridge got to the free throw line on the next possession, and hit both to tie the game. Irving held the ball the entire next possession for Cleveland and hit a three over Batum. Lillard took the final Portland shot, but missed in the corner.
Matthews finished with 11 points. Kaman had 7 points and 13 rebounds. Meyers Leonard led the bench scoring with 9. Kevin Love had 10 points, but missed his last 11 shots. He did not hit a shot past the first quarter.
Blazers scored 4 points in the final 3:44.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) January 29, 2015
With tonight's game, Lillard is 38 for 122 from field (31%) in his last six games. Roughest shooting patch of career.— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) January 29, 2015
Irving on the last play: "Our coaching staff was thinking one thing & I was thinking another, but we just met in the middle." #Cavs #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) January 29, 2015
With Rockets, Clippers winning, #Blazers in tie w/them for third in West at 32-14. Portland has not beaten either, but leads NW.— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) January 29, 2015