James Scores 27, Cavaliers End Slide
Cleveland 99, Portland 84
CLEVELAND, March 17 (Ticker) -- LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers received a much-needed break from the schedule.
James scored 27 points and Drew Gooden added a season-high 23 as the Cavaliers cruised after halftime to a 99-84 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers that ended a three-game losing streak.
"It's very hard to stay motivated (when you have 20 wins)," Portland's Zach Randolph said. "When you are getting beat by 20 every night, it gets real frustrating."
"I'm sure there are players that are looking and counting the games down," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "It's very tough to motivate a group that is basically out of the playoffs."
Trailing, 22-17, late in the first quarter, Cleveland went on a 10-0 run into the second period to take a 27-22 lead. The Cavaliers extended to a 53-43 advantage at the break.
"We came out a little sluggish, but we turned it on and got our second wind and executed when we had a little cushion and stretched the lead," Gooden said.
Cleveland took control of the contest with a 16-4 surge to start the third quarter. James had nine during the burst, igniting it with a layup and capping it with a 3-pointer for a 69-47 lead with 6:28 left.
"We didn't want to give Portland a chance to get back in the game," James said. "We did a great job of getting (58) points in the paint."
The Cavaliers cruised from there, beginning their four-game homestand on a positive note.
James had nine rebounds, a season-best six steals and five rebounds and Gooden made 8-of-15 shots and grabbed 14 boards. Ronald Murray contributed 16 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas chipped in 15 for Cleveland.
"Drew's effort on both ends of the floor, especially pounding the glass, was big for us tonight," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.
"Me and Zach are friends and he was going at me, so I felt I had to go at him," Gooden said. "I knew he was going to get a lot more touches than me, so when I got them, I made them count."
Sebastian Telfair scored 24 points and Randolph and Steve Blake added 17 apiece for the Blazers, who have dropped nine straight road games.
"It's a huge lift for your confidence, going out there and playing well," said Telfair, a 2004 first-round pick out of high school. "It shows that your work is starting to pay off."
Telfair led the team in scoring for the first time since Dec. 11 and posted his highest output since dropping 27 on his hometown New York Knicks on Nov. 20.