Wrap-Up -- Stopping home for a single game after a disappointing 0-3 road trip, the Cavaliers needed a lift. And with 4:33 to play in the first period, they got exactly that.
After spending the first half of the season rehabbing from hip surgery, Isaiah Thomas finally made his Cavaliers debut, peeling off the sweats late in the first, and everything fell back into place for the Wine & Gold, who won their 13th straight home contest – topping the Blazers, 127-110, on Tuesday night at The Q.
An All-NBA Second Teamer and the East’s reigning scoring leader, Thomas barely missed a beat after missing his first two triples – proceeding to score on a pull-up jumper and complete an and-1 before the end of the quarter.
By halftime, he’d found his rhythm and when the smoke cleared on the night, the two-time All-Star led all reserves – finishing with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-8 from deep, to go with three assists in just under 19 eventful minutes off the bench.
”It was a special night for me,” beamed Thomas. “I haven’t played in seven months, so to be able to be out there and compete against another team was special, and obviously to get the win was even bigger. But just to be able to compete and be out there and be in an arena setting – it was a great feeling for myself.”
The game itself was tight throughout the first three quarters, but Cleveland started getting separation in the final period – pushing the lead to 18 midway through the fourth and cruising to the finish line from there to halt a three-game skid.
LeBron James led the Wine & Gold with 24 points, going 10-of-17 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the stripe, grabbing seven boards and leading both squads with eight assists and four steals.
Kevin Love was the model of efficiency on Tuesday night – notching 19 points on just seven field goal attempts, going 5-of-7 from the floor, including 4-for-5 from long-range, adding seven boards in just 25 minutes of work.
With his old teammate back in the fray, Jae Crowder had a strong outing against Portland – finishing with 17 points, going 4-for-8 from beyond the arc, 6-of-12 from the floor overall, adding three assists, two boards, two steals and a block.
Thomas was one of three Cavalier reserves to net double-figures on Tuesday.
Dwyane Wade followed up with 15 points, going 6-of-11 from the floor, tying the team-lead with eight boards to go with three assists. Jeff Green reached double-digits without hitting a field goal – going 0-for-5 from the floor but 10-of-12 from the stripe, adding four rebounds, five helpers and a pair of steals in the win.
Portland’s Damian Lillard led all scorers with 25 points, going 6-for-9 from long-distance in his first game back after missing the previous five with a hamstring injury. Jusuf Nurkic followed up with 23 points on 10-for-12 shooting, adding seven boards and four assists.
The Cavaliers dominated Portland on the break, 18-3, but were outdone on second-chance scoring, 19-8. Each team went 13-for-32 from three-point range, but Cleveland held a distinct advantage from the stripe – going 28-for-37 on the night compared to 13-of-19 for the Blazers.
The Cavs tallied their 13th straight win at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday after topping the Portland Trail Blazers, 127-110.
Turning Point -- There was no doubt about the moment of truth on Tuesday night. The Wine & Gold came out looking to put Portland down in the fourth – and that’s exactly what they did.
Despite going off for 38 points in the third, the Cavaliers only led by four, 91-87. And less than a minute into the fourth, the Blazers tied the game on Mo Harkless’ three-pointer.
But Dwyane Wade and Isaiah Thomas combined to key a 13-0 run over the next three minutes to open a lead and Jeff Green’s proficiency at the line extended Cleveland’s lead to 19 at the 4:50 mark – allowing Tyronn Lue to pull some starters with the second-half of a back-to-back looming on Wednesday night in Beantown.
By the Numbers – .863 … Cavaliers’ home winning percentage (38-6) against the Western Conference at The Q dating back to January 21, 2015 – including a perfect 6-0 mark so far this season.
Quotable – Coach Tyronn Lue, on Isaiah Thomas’ Cavaliers’ debut on Tuesday …
”I thought he was great. First game out, to have 17 points in 18 minutes, it just looked easy to him. But once we get a chance to get the play calls downs and run a lot of stuff on the fly, it’s going to be great. I just love his ability to attack, get into the paint and shoot the ball.”Up Next -- Following Tuesday’s double-digit victory over the Blazers at The Q, the Wine & Gold get right back on the road – embarking on their longest trip of the season, a five-game, 10-day junket that tips off on Wednesday night in Beantown, taking on Kyrie Irving and the Celtics in a nationally-televised rematch of the home opener. After a couple days off, the Cavs get back after it in Orlando, squaring off with the Magic on Saturday night before traveling to the Twin Cities for a Monday meeting with Karl-Anthony Towns and the T-Wolves. Cleveland closes out the roadie with a back-to-back, traveling to Toronto next Thursday followed by a visit to Indiana on Friday night.