Cavs Hold Off Blazers
Wrap-Up – Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers were not about to let Wednesday’s game slip away. And Irving assured the win by scoring eight of the Wine and Gold’s final 10 points – stemming a Blazers rally that saw them overcome a 19-point edge to briefly take the lead in the fourth and holding on for the dramatic 93-88 victory at the Rose Garden.
Missed free throws by both teams kept the game close, but in closing seconds, former Cavalier J.J. Hickson missed a pair that would have cut Cleveland’s lead to one. On the other end, rookie Tyler Zeller calmly canned two shots to give the Wine and Gold enough for the win.
Irving led both teams with 31 points and the Cavaliers with five assists – outdueling impressive Blazers rookie, Damian Lillard. Tristan Thompson doubled-up for the second straight contest with 19 points and14 boards. Zeller was the only other Cavalier in double-figures, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Turning Point – Every time Portland attempted to rally and get one of the loudest crowds in the NBA back into it, Kyrie Irving drilled a big shot. When Lillard canned a three-pointer to tie the game at 75-apiece halfway through the fourth, Kyrie splashed home a jumper to untie it. When Wes Matthews got the Blazers to within one, Kyrie scored on a finger roll to quiet the crowd and quash the rally. He flipped the score after Lillard gave Portland the lead with under two to play and drilled a pair of free throws to extend a late one-point lead to three.
Game Ball – Kyrie Irving – After a year-and-a-half in the NBA, it’s obvious that the reigning Rookie of the Year loves a big stage. On Wednesday, he had nearly 60 family and friends at the Rose Garden and he didn’t disappoint – netting 15 of his 31 points in the first quarter and almost single-handedly closing out the Blazers down the stretch. He’s emerged as the club’s unquestioned leaders and has led the Cavaliers in scoring and assists 21 times already this season.
By the Numbers – 1, 2, 3 … Dion Waiters’ respective ranks among all rookies in steals (1.16 per game), scoring (14.8) and assists (3.2)
Quotable – Coach Byron Scott, on the young Cavaliers finding their leader(s) and continuing to get better …
“For us to get better, we have to hold everyone accountable. Kyrie’s the leader of our team and he has to speak up and Tyler does, myself, everyone needs to speak up and hold each other accountable. That’s the only way to get better.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers finish up their final game out West this season when they travel to Salt Lake City to face the Jazz. They return to The Q on Tuesday to take on the Celtics, part of three of their next four at home. After taking on Boston, the Wine and Gold don’t play again until Friday.