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Wrap-Up – The Cavaliers pride themselves on being a defense-first team that’s not afraid to win ugly. But on Tuesday night, they found themselves in a back-and-forth Western Conference-type shootout. The problem was that Portland’s last shot was a 30-foot three-pointer by Damian Lillard with 0.4 to play – snuffing a valiant Cavaliers’ comeback and halting Cleveland’s four-game home win streak with the 119-116 win at The Q.
After ten ties and 23 lead changes, the Blazers pulled ahead, 114-104, with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. But Kyrie Irving scored nine straight points in just over 90 seconds to get Cleveland to within a deuce in the final seconds. After a LaMarcus Aldridge miss, Kyrie drew the defense and fed a streaking Anderson Varejao, who tied the game with a layup with 7.1 to play. But Lillard took the in-bounds pass on the next possession and pulled up for the game-winning three-pointer.
Irving doubled-up with 25 points and 10 assists – going 9-for-22 from the floor with three boards and a steal. Dion Waiters netted 25 points of his own, adding five helpers and three boards. Waiters scored 11 of his 25 in the fourth quarter; Irving notched nine of his in the final period. Tristan Thompson finished with 15 points and seven boards, Andrew Bynum added 13 points and nine boards and Jarrett Jack came off the Cavs bench to tally 13 points.
The Blazers were led by Lillard, who also doubled-up with 36 points and 10 assists. LaMarcus Aldridge added 26 points and a game-high 15 boards for Portland. The Blazers beat up the Cavaliers on the offensive glass – outscoring them in second-chance points, 35-10.
Turning Point – The biggest turning point of Tuesday’s game came in the final two minutes. Until that point, neither team had a double-digit lead. The game was actually tied halfway through the fourth quarter before Wes Matthews drilled a pair of three-pointers – two of the 15 Portland hit on the night – to key a 13-3 Blazers run. Kyrie attempted a one-man run in the closing moments, but in the end, Lillard had the final say.
Game Ball – Dion Waiters – The second-year guard from Syracuse saved his best for the fourth quarter, going 5-for-9 from the floor in the final period. On the night, Waiters was 11-for-19 from the floor, including 2-of-2 from long-distance.
By the Numbers – 1 … combined turnovers committed by all five guards – Irving, Miles, Jack, Waiters and Dellevadova – on Tuesday night. The Cavaliers committed just six miscues as a team against the Blazers.
Quotable – Kyrie Irving, on his team’s effort on Tuesday night …
”We fought until the end, had a consistent effort and that’s all you can ask for. Obviously we made some mistakes throughout the game, but we just have to learn from them and keep it moving.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers have a Central Division back-to-back on deck for the weekend. On Friday night, they welcome the struggling Milwaukee Bucks to town on Anderson Varejao Bobblehead Night. The following evening, Cleveland travels to the Windy City to take on the Bulls. The following Monday, Josh Smith and the Pistons roll into town for the first time this season.
Watch Highlights: Trail Blazers 119, Cavs 116