Fresh off their Christmas Day loss to the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers arrived in Portland ready to get back on track. With the Blazers' Damian Lillard still sidelined with a plantar fascia injury, the Cavs rested Kyrie Irving for the second game of their back-to-back. But the Cavs weren't prepared for the offensive onslaught of the short-handed Blazers, who destroyed the Cavs from the opening tip until the deep benches cleared.
The Blazers were led by Allen Crabbe, who scored a career-high 26 points. CJ McCollum added 16 points and 6 assists, Meyers Leonard scored 13 points, and Mason Plumlee contributed 11 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists.
LeBron James struggled for 12 points on 4-13 shooting.
The Blazers shocked everyone in the first half, possibly even themselves. McCollum, Crabbe and Aminu combined to dominate the first quarter offensively, and the Cavs looked like they were still sleeping off Christmas dinner at the other end. Before Cleveland could look at the scoreboard, they were down double-digits, and eventually only scored 12 points in the quarter. Meanwhile, to the roar of the Moda faithful, the Blazers tossed in 34 points of their own, leaving the Cavs pondering their 22-point shellacking in one quarter.
End of First: Portland 34, Cleveland 12
Cleveland mounted the inevitable comeback in the second. The Blazers actually missed a few shots, and the Cavs got hot. When Matthew Dellavedova swished a three at the halfway point, the Cavs cut the lead to 16 points. Out of the timeout, the Blazers regained control, as Leonard, Henderson and Harkless combined for 7 straight points, then the Blazers poured it on, with a Crabbe three-pointer pushing the lead all the way to 28! As the crowd got louder and louder, Crabbe set a new career-high of 21 points by hitting one last three-pointer to complete the first-half barrage.
Both teams, all the fans, and most of the NBA headed into halftime in shock and awe.
Halftime Score: Portland 63, Cleveland 34
Cleveland opened the third with 8 quick points, but when McCollum finished another layup off a Plumlee assist, the Blazers' lead was up to 30. Cleveland pushed, and pushed, and pushed. And every time they looked up, that deficit just wasn't dropping. Plumlee finished a three point play, and McCollum/Crabbe hit free throws, making the lead 34 points with four minutes left in the third. That's when the Cavs went on a 8-1 run, forcing a quick Blazers timeout. Portland came out of the timeout with a Plumlee dunk from a designed play, and Iman Shumpert promptly got rung up for a technical foul for shoving Leonard. James Jones picked up a similar technical foul against Leonard one minute later. After all this, the Blazers still led by over 30.
End of Third: Portland 90, Cleveland 59
Former Blazer James Jones sparked the Cavs to start a last-ditch comeback attempt, cutting the Blazers' lead under 30 to open the fourth. Five minutes later, the Blazers led by... 29 points. Soon after, the benches officially started to empty. Even Chris Kaman swished a few jumpers, as did Luis Montero. The Blazers and their fans enjoyed their biggest win of the season, without their star player.
The Blazers happily head to the airport for an overnight flight to Sacramento, where they play the Kings tomorrow evening. But stay tuned tonight for more about this game from Dave Deckard and the Blazer's Edge crew.