Bench Delivers As Blazers Beat Cavs To Finish Trip 5-1

by Casey Holdahl
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It’s always nice to get support from the bench. But in the last game of a long road trip, it’s more than nice, it’s almost a requirement.

Wednesday night in Cleveland, Portland’s bench came through with the requisite performance.

The Trail Blazers reserves put up 70 points as the Trail Blazers defeated the Cavaliers 141-105 in front of 4,148 fans Wednesday night at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

“Melo (Anthony) got it going in the first half, that was good to see. Ant (Simons) bounced back from a tough game in Atlanta, that was good to see,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “Enes (Kanter) obviously very productive. I always kind of keep track of plus/minus and those three in particular were very good both in the first half and second half. We needed it, kinda got off to a slow start and they came in and helped.”

The Trail Blazers are now 37-29 overall and 21-13 on the road this season. With the win, Portland finishes a six-game road trip with a 5-1 record, with those five wins coming by an average margin of 21.4 points.

“Understatement: it was a great road trip,” said Stotts. “Going into it, six games on the road, if you can go .500 on the road it’s usually a decent trip, 4-2 even better. But 5-1 at this stage of the season, where we are in the standings, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”


Portland remains in seventh in the Western Conference, one game behind both the Mavericks and Lakers for fifth, and three and a half games ahead of the Warriors for eighth with six games to play.

While the Trail Blazers never really seemed in jeopardy of losing to a Cavaliers team with the fourth-worst record in the league, the Trail Blazers have had a habit this season of dropping winnable games at the end of otherwise successful road trips. So when Cleveland jumped out to an early five-point lead and the trailed by just one point going into the second quarter, it wasn’t exactly cause for concern, but it indicated that maybe a bit of additional assistance might be warranted.

That assistance came courtesy of Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the reserves. Anthony, one game removed from moving into 10th in NBA history in scoring, led a bench unit in the second quarter that put up 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting. With the bench scoring making up for the fact that neither team did much defending, Portland managed to outscore Cleveland by nine points in the quarter to take a 67-57 lead into the half.

Portland built the lead up to 17 by the midway point of the third quarter, but just when it seemed like they might pull away for good, Cleveland scored seven-straight to cut the advantage to 10 by the 3:31 mark.

But this time, it was Damian Lillard who a unit of bench players on a 15-2 run to take a 22-point lead into the fourth. That lead would continue to expand in the fourth despite every started except CJ McCollum sitting out the entirety of the quarter.

“Complete teams get a lot of production from their bench,” said Lillard. “Obviously when we get that type of production from our bench, it’s most likely we gonna win the game, and I think that showed. Thirty-six point win and our bench scoring that many points and giving us that type of production is going to lead to those kind of wins.”


While the bench did much of the lifting, Lillard did lead all scorers with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, 6-of-10 shooting from three and 6-of-7 shooting from the line to go with nine assists, three rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes.

Kanter led the bench in both scoring (18 points) and rebounds (13) in 21 minutes. Anthony went 5-of-8 from the field for 16 points to go along with five rebounds, a block and a steal in 22 minutes. Anfernee Simons went 4-of-6 for 10 points and Nassir Little added eight points and two rebounds in 14 minutes.

As for the starters, Jusuf Nurkic went 6-of-10 from the field and 1-of-1 from three for 15 points whole also tallying 11 rebounds, four bnlocks and three assists in 21 minutes. CJ McCollum added 10 points and five assists in 31 minutes.

With the trip complete and after 10 days away, the Trail Blazers now return to the Moda Center where they’ll host the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night in Portland’s first game at home with fans in the arena this season.

“It’s a big game,” said Stotts. “The tiebreaker, the Lakers, we’re in the mix for six, seven, eight (seeds), there is a lot at stake. If we win this game, the ball is in our court, and they know that if they win it, the ball is in their court. I love the fact that we’re going to have fans in the arena, that was great news, and I think it’s appropriate almost that our first game with fans is going to be against the Lakers. I can’t think of anything better.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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