Trail Blazers Hold On For Third Straight Win
Portland 89, Cleveland 87
PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 15 (Ticker) -- LeBron James got off to a fast start before Ruben Patterson eventually wore him out.
Patterson scored 16 points and helped shut James down in the final three quarters as the Portland Trail Blazers won their third consecutive game with an 89-87 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I just didn't make the shots in the second half that I made in the first half," James said. "That happens. They put a little more pressure on me but we still had an opportunity to win. We just didn't capitalize on it."
"He's a (heck) of a player but I just got in him," Patterson said. "Like I've said before, if I was a starter, all the All-Stars would have a challenge against me every night."
With Portland clinging to an 88-87 lead, Patterson was fouled by Zydrunas Ilgauskas and split two free throws with 15 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, Cleveland got the ball to James, who tried to drive the right side of the lane but was denied a shot by Patterson. Instead, James passed to Donyell Marshall, who worked the ball from the right sideline to Eric Snow at the top of the key. As time ran down, Snow's 21-foot jumper was off the rim to seal the win for Portland.
"I told Coach (Nate McMillan) that I had LeBron one-on-one there at the end," Patterson said. "I told the other guys to stay with the shooters and don't let them shoot the three. I contained him and I made him pass the ball. We would rather have Eric Snow and them other guys take a shot before LeBron."
"Ruben played me tight and made me give the ball up," James said. "That's what he does for this team - comes off the bench and plays hard defense. He's very energetic on offense and he did a great job."
Ilgauskas opened the second half with 10 consecutive points for the Cavaliers and later added a layup to give Cleveland a 64-60 lead midway through the third quarter.
"We couldn't close the game," said Ilgauskas, who shot 10-of-11 from the floor. "These last few games could have gone either way. It's hard. We knew that they play hard. They are young but they play hard."
Portland responded with an 18-3 run bridging the third and fourth periods to move in front, 78-67, with 9:25 to play. Patterson scored four points early in the burst and Theo Ratliff added five, capping it with a three-point play.
"He also had to guard me," Patterson said of James. "I think that since they played a tough game last night (against Phoenix), fatigue may have set in. But hey, we all got to go through that. It's nice to get the win."
After making only one of his first eight shots in the second half, James buried a 3-pointer to cap a 17-5 spurt that helped Cleveland regain the lead, 84-83, with 3:10 remaining.
Juan Dixon nailed a basket from beyond the arc to put Portland on top, 86-84, with 2:08 to go, before James fed Ilgauskas for a 21-foot jumper that tied the game with 1:46 left.
Zach Randolph scored 16 points, rookie Jarrett Jack added 11 and Dixon 10 for the Trail Blazers, who made just one basket in the final 8:53.
"We just kept fighting out there," Patterson said. "It was just a total team effort and we just made the plays at the end to get a win."
Ranked third in scoring, James finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds and Ilgauskas had 27 before fouling out for Cleveland, which was outrebounded, 43-32.
"Our reads in guarding LeBron weren't good in the first quarter," McMillan said. "When we improved, Ruben did a nice job of containing him. Patterson came in and gave us the energy."
"They did a terrific job of holding us to one shot," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "I thought our energy and focus wasn't there. Ruben was physical and did a good job. He got help from the other guys and made it tough for LeBron to get shots and get to the basket."
Already shorthanded with the loss of guard Larry Hughes to a broken finger, Cleveland played without starting forward Drew Gooden because of a right thigh bruise.
"It's tough to lose 16 (points) and 10 (rebounds) a night," James said of Gooden. "Guys are really going to have to prepare themselves on these nights and that means (Ilgauskas) and me, too. It's a tough time for us but we have to work through this."