Blazers Finish Three-Game Trip In Cleveland After OT Win

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

The Portland Trail Blazers finish off a three-game Eastern Conference road trip Tuesday night in Cleveland with a tilt versus the Cavaliers in the second night of a back-to-back at Quicken Loans Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

The Trail Blazers (19-17) enter Tuesday’s game coming off a 124-120 overtime victory versus the Chicago Bulls Monday night at the United Center. Playing in their fifth-straight game without starting point guard Damian Lillard (right hamstring strain), Portland was able to hand the Bulls their first home loss since December 4 thanks to season highs from Evan Turner (22 points) and Al-Farouq Aminu (24 points) and 32 points, eight assists and six rebounds from CJ McCollum.

Pat Connaughton scored 16 off the bench and Jusuf Nurkić put up a double-double of 11 points and 15 rebounds to help secure the Trail Blazers’ 11th road win of the season.

Monday night’s victory did come at a cost though, as McCollum, Aminu and Shabazz Napier all played at least 41 minutes in the overtime tilt. While Portland has gone 4-1 this season in the second game of back-to-backs, none of those wins came after an overtime game. It’s also worth noting that Trail Blazers lost an hour traveling from Chicago to Cleveland and that the Cavaliers, currently sitting on a three-game losing streak, haven’t played since December 30.

But Portland could get a boost from the return of Lillard, who told NBC Sports Northwest’s Jason Quick that he planned on returning to the lineup for Tuesday night’s game. The 6-3 guard out of Weber State has been sidelined with a right hamstring strain since suffering the injury in the third quarter of Portland’s 93-91 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on December 20. Lillard could be on a minutes restriction if he does play Tuesday night, though any production they get from the two-time All-Star would be helpful.

The Cavaliers (24-12) also have an all-star guard returning from injury, as it was announced Monday that Isaiah Thomas, who Cleveland acquired this offseason as a part of the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston, will make his season debut Tuesday night. Thomas, who averaged 28.9 points and 5.9 assists last season, missed the first 36 games of the season with a hip injury and will be on a minutes restriction Tuesday night.

Tuesday night’s game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Brian Wheeler will have the call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.