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Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland is having a season to forget. In a ridiculously weak Eastern Conference, the Cavs were expected to push for a playoff spot this year. Owner Dan Gilbert stated as much after landing the number one pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Things...haven’t quite worked out that well.
The Cavs spent their first pick on Anthony Bennett, and while it’s too early to declare him a bust, Bennett currently has the lowest PER of any number one pick in the last 24 years (by a mile!) and hasn’t learned basic NBA concepts like setting screens or running. Off-season acquisition Andrew Bynum flamed out and was ultimately traded away. Last year's first-round pick, Dion Waiters, accused franchise cornerstone Kyrie Irving of freezing him out. Have beef with Kyrie? Hope you enjoy the trading block, Dion.
This all came to a head on Sunday when the Cavs were destroyed by 44 points by the Sacramento Kings, the largest loss a team has endured all year. Ouch. A team comprised of five Anthony Bennetts shouldn't even lose by that much.
The Cavs tried to salvage their season by trading for All-Star Luol Deng, a grinder that immediately improves their weakest position and vaults them back into playoff contention. But what once looked like a promising roster full of desirable assets—one they thought might be enough to entice LeBron James to return in free agency next year—is a hot mess spiraling down the failure toilet. Frustrations are growing, the optimism is gone, and without a quick 180 Cleveland will find themselves in the lottery once again.
God hates Cleveland.
The last time these two teams met Damian Lillard produced one of the signature highlights of his young career, knocking down a deep three-pointer to lift Portland to victory at the buzzer. The Blazers needed Dame’s heroics because Kyrie Irving went off in the final two minutes, erasing a decent Portland lead in the blink of an eye. Watching these two young point guards battle is a joy.
This is Portland’s last home game for over a week. They have a brutal road stretch of four games in five nights versus San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, and Oklahoma City. Tonight is not a must-win by any stretch, but heading into that road trip off of a home loss against a lesser opponent would be a rough way to start the Texas three-step.
The Blazers have been resting since Saturday while the Cavs barely squeaked by the Lakers last night. If the Cavs can pull this out, it will more shocking than two-year NBA player Tristan Thompson deciding that, at the NBA level, he's going to shoot the ball with his other hand.
We're a few minutes from tipoff, and the crowd is as sparse as it has been since the beginning of the season. The Bobcats game had more attendees than this. Sorry, Cleveland, but you're officially the worst.
10:38 - It only took a minute and a half and what felt like twenty misses, but we finally have our first basket Alright, C.J. Miles, thanks to you this game won't end as a 0-0 tie. 2-0 Cavs.
8:58 - Nicolas Batum with the most sheepish and one you'll likely see. Instead of dunking like he could have, he just kind of awkwardly pushed the ball into the hoop so as to not cause a stink. The ball rolled through, and he was able to convert the free throw. 7-4 Blazers.
7:40 - Between Robin Lopez and Anderson Varejao, I'm not sure if this is a basketball game or a Head & Shoulders commercial. 13-9 Blazers.
5:43 - Luol Deng on Nicolas Batum is such a good matchup, as they have similar games and responsibilities for their team. So for Luol is getting the best of Batum, scoring seven points here early for his new team. 15-14 Blazers.
4:21 - Dion Waiters gets a pass from Kyrie and bricks a wide-open three. I guess that's why they freeze you out, eh Waiters? 17-16 Blazers.
4:02 - Deng. Literally. 19-17 Cavs.
2:03 - When the offense goes cold, run a pick and pop with LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers were missing jump shot after jump shot, but Aldridge was able to stop the bleeding here towards the end of the first with a fifteen foot baseline jumper. He's got eight points and four rebounds early. It's that Dairy Queen power. 23-19 Cavs.
0:00 - This game is breezing by—there are not many fouls, timeouts, or random stoppages of play. Anytime a first quarter goes that quick it means we'll be stuck with fifteen clear path foul reviews in the fourth. The Cavs are up early behind ten points from Deng. 27-26 Cavs.
10:38 - For someone who is reportedly disliked by his own team, Waiters sure does like to strut after made baskets. He just converted an impressive and one, but managed to act like he hit a game winning shot in the process. Man, I sound old. Get off my lawn, Waiters! 30-30 Tie.
9:10 - A couple of rough spots here early. Waiters got away with a Reggie Miller leg-kick and got the phantom foul, even though it could have been called the other way. He missed the free throw, but Tyler Zeller grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled. He missed both free throws. When that offensive rebound kicked out, CJ McCollum grabbed the rebound on the floor and passed it to Mo Williams, but a jump ball was called in the process. The Cavs got the jump and scored right away, leading to a terrible four-point play that took minutes off of my life. 36-30 Cavs.
7:04 - Tyler Zeller couldn't take Damian Lillard one on one. I'm no expert, but if you're seven feet and can't take a point guard down low, that should count as negative points for your team. 38-33 Cavs.
5:28 - After that last Matthews miss, the Blazers are now 1-10 from distance. Need a reason why they're down in this game? There you go. 38-36 Cavs.
4:38 - Kyrie scores in transition on one end, Lillard races out and gets fouled in transition on the other. The point guards are going for it. So far it's 11-9 in favor of Dame. 42-38 Cavs.
4:05 - Kyrie getting those superstar calls like he's Uncle Drew or something. 46-38 Cavs.
2:52 - Back to back threes for Lillard! That was six points in a hurry. The PG battle is now 17-13 in favor of the man from Oakland. 46-46 Tie.
1:34 - Another three for Lillard! He's now got twenty points on the night. Is it possible to have Lillard and Irving just go one on one for the rest of the game? That's all I want. Everyone else sit down, let the two point guards decide it. 49-48 Blazers.
0:00 - With the shot clock off and the quarter ending, Stotts decided to call a timeout to draw up a play with seventeen seconds remaining in the half. As if you needed a timeout to draw up a Lillard isolation. Dame worked the clock down, drove to the hoop, but missed the dunk. Aldridge was there to clean up the miss, though, so maybe the timeout worked after all? 54-50 Blazers.
10:09 - Second verse, same as the first. More Kyrie, more LaMarcus jumpers, more offense with little defense. 58-54 Blazers.
7:50 - This game is flying again. I don't know how we're already halfway through this quarter, but I'm guessing it has something to do with the lack of defense. Some shots were made, some shots were missed, and the Cavs are slowly chipping away at Portland's slim lead. 63-63 Tie.
5:58 - Aldridge is starting to reassert himself this quarter. The point guard show is taking a backseat to those sweet twenty foot jumpers. 65-65 Tie.
5:09 - I take it back. This is Lillard's world and we're just living in it. Dame just got up for an alley-oop from Batum, throwing it down and mean mugging after the slam. When all we see are jumpers, that was the play of the play of game by far. 67-67 Tie.
3:52 - Dion Waiters: talking smack after a make, following that make up with a brick and an air-ball on the next possession. Never change, Dion. Never change. 73-69 Cavs.
1:55 - I was just going to make a quip about how the bad Mo Williams showed up tonight, and then he just made a jumper and totally redeemed himself. He's still shooting just 2-8 on the night with two turnovers—with Lillard getting a long rest now, my guess is he'll play close to the entire fourth. 75-71 Cavs.
0:40 - Aldridge with 21 and 12 (the Rush line!), keeping the Blazers in this one here towards the end of the third. He is a priest of the temple of Syrinx. 75-75 Tie.
0:00 - At the end of the quarter, Aldridge grabbed an offensive rebound (his thirteenth of the night) and sunk a turnaround jumper as time expired. The MVP chants won't be far behind. 77-75 Blazers.
10:47 - CJ McCollum just threw a nasty spin move in the lane, draining a one-handed floater over Varejao in the process. I knew he had handles, but dang. That was impressive. 79-77 Blazers.
9:11 - The Blazers are so good at back breaking sequences. On the defensive end, Thomas Robinson stuffed Tristan Thompson at the rim. That lead to a three-pointer from Mo Williams on the other end, and the Cavs need time. The crowd is finally into this game. 86-80 Blazers.
8:10 - Lillard checks in, Lillard draws an offensive foul on Kyrie. Score that point for Dame. 86-84 Blazers.
6:16 - The Blazers call a timeout after the Cavs even the score. Aldridge and Batum were waiting to check in after getting a nice long rest, and chances are this timeout was just to get them in the game sooner as opposed to later. Portland needs to put this one away, and Aldridge is going to be the guy to do it. 88-88 Tie.
4:48 - Batum, going for an offensive rebound, just back-tapped it in one fluid motion to Lillard behind the arc. Of course he drained it. That was too good of a pass to miss that shot. 93-89 Blazers.
3:18 - The Cavs have put the defensive-minded Varejao on Aldridge, and he's been causing havoc in the post. Not enough, though—on a broken play LaMarcus just stepped out and drained a three-pointer from the elbow. He doesn't shoot those often, but maybe he should start. That looked automatic. 96-94 Blazers.
2:31 - Two free throws for LaMarcus, which leads to the first MVP chants of the night. He's got 28 points and 15 rebounds. 98-96 Blazers.
1:56 - Make that 30-16 for LaMarcus. 100-96 Blazers.
1:28 - Shut it down! LaMarcus is unstoppable. Outside, inside, it doesn't matter. He's up to 32 points for the night, and is single-handedly closing the door on this Cavs team, scoring the last nine Portland points here late. 102-96 Blazers.
0:58 - Rebound for LaMarcus, three-pointer for Matthews. This one is over. They got 'em when it counted. 105-96 Blazers.
0:30 - Lillard wants in on this party, draining a three as the shot clock expires. Dame has 28 points on the night, while LaMarcus is straight beasting with 32 points and 18 rebounds. What a showing. A twelve point run to end the game? Sure. 108-96 Blazers.
FINAL: 108-96 Blazers. Behind massive nights from LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, and a 12-0 run to end the game, the Blazers win once again. What a game for the one-two combo from Portland. Next up is a rough four game road trip, the hardest stretch of games Portland has faced yet this season. See you next week!