Late Surge Lifts Blazers Over Cavs
Wrap-Up – After weathering a Lakers late-game run and winning a shootout on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, the Wine and Gold simply seemed to run out of gas in the closing moments in Portland, as the Blazers closed the game on a 12-0 run to hand Cleveland the 108-96 loss on Wednesday night at the Moda Center.
Luol Deng led four Cavaliers in double-figures with 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting, adding six boards and three steals. Kyrie Irving followed up with 21 points on 7-of-20 shooting. Dion Waiters came off the bench to notch 18 points and Tristan Thompson doubled-up for the 18th time this season with 10 points and 10 boards. Anderson Varejao led the Cavaliers with 14 boards.
The Blazers were paced by LaMarcus Aldridge’s 32-point, 18-rebound effort. Damian Lillard, who canned the game-winner at the buzzer in a December 7 thriller at The Q. followed up with 28 points, six boards and five assists.
Turning Point – In a game that featured 15 ties and 13 lead-changes, it was only fitting that the game’s turning point didn’t come until the game’s final three minutes. After a see-saw fourth quarter, Anderson Varejao tipped in a Dion Waiters’ miss to tie the game at 96-apiece at the 2:54 mark. But after an official’s timeout, the Cavaliers wouldn’t score again. Instead, Aldridge took over down the stretch – scoring the next six points. Lillard and Wesley Matthews canned treys in the final minute, sending Cleveland to the showers.
Game Ball – Anderson Varejao – The Wild Thing didn’t assert himself offensively on Wednesday, attempting only seven shots and finishing with eight points. But, as always, Varejao did a little bit of everything else – leading the team in rebounding and tying Kyrie for the lead in assists with four. He also tied Deng with three steals and had Cleveland’s only two blocks of the game.
By the Numbers – 18.5, .519, .533 … Luol Deng’s scoring average and shooting percentage from the floor and the three-point line, respectively, in four games with the Wine and Gold.
Quotable – Coach Mike Brown, on his team’s final three minutes in Portland …
”We looked like we were tired, we were gassed a little bit. But, Portland had something to do with it. They kept attacking, kept attacking, kept attacking and, you know, when they hit a bucket and then they hit that big three, that took a lot of wind out of us.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers wrap up the road trip on Friday night when they head for the mountains to face the Nuggets on Friday night in Denver. Cleveland returns home to face off against Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks in a Martin Luther King Day matinee at The Q. After that, Luol Deng meets his old club for the first time since being dealt to Cleveland on January 6. The Cavaliers stay home for a Friday night matchup with Milwaukee.