The Cleveland Cavaliers began their five-game road trip with three straight losses and it seemed like it would take a great performance from the young Cavaliers in order to get that first win of the trip against the Portland Trailblazers, despite a three-game losing streak. As it turned out, Cleveland was able to win, 93-88, even though they played pretty poorly.
The first half was not bad for the Cavaliers who had a 26-21 lead after the first quarter and pulled away to be up by 17 at halftime. It was that dreaded third quarter where Cleveland attempted to throw the game away yet again. They lost the third quarter by eight, but it was not until later in the fourth that they gave up the lead. This time though, the Cavaliers responded with an 8-2 run that carried them the rest of the way and secured the win.
What made the performance so poor was the shooting of both teams. Cleveland won, despite shooting 38.6% from the field and 23.5% from three-point range. They were also outrebounded 54-40, with the tide really turning in the Trailblazers' favor in the second half. The Cavaliers did have a big advantage with points in the paint, where they outscored Portland 42-26.
As usual, it was Kyrie Irving who kept Cleveland alive and made sure the team did not let things get away late. He began the fourth quarter on the bench, but the Cavaliers were not able to score without him. Once he came back into the game, he turned into Mr. Fourth Quarter once again. At times the second-year player player was forced to go one-on-five, yet some how managed to score when needed.
Irving finished the game with 31 points and five assists and helped his team keep control of the ball with only eight team turnovers, compared to 19 by the Trailblazers. Tristan Thompson finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds, seven offensive, but was not as effective in the second half as he was in the first. While Irving was on the bench in the final period, Thompson had a chance to score Cleveland's first points at the line and stop Portland's run, but missed both.
Tyler Zeller scored 11 points, but came one rebound shy of a double-double. C.J. Miles only managed eight points as a starter, while Luke Walton had seven points, four rebounds, and three assists coming off the bench.
The Trailblazers really struggled shooting the ball as well, especially early in the game. They allowed the Cavaliers to open such a big lead by continuously missing open shots.
Nicholas Batum led Portland in scoring with 23, but was 8-of-17 on the night, including 3-of-9 from three-point range. Wesley Matthews scored 17 points, had six rebounds, and three assists, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 and 10 rebounds. The likely Rookie of the Year, if the season were to end today, Damian Lillard, struggled for much of the game, but ended with 13 points.
Former Cavaliers J.J. Hickson and Sasha Pavlovich did not manage great games against their former team. Hickson scored 13 points and had 11 rebounds, but missed two crucial passes towards the end of the game. Pavlovich did not record any stats and only played just under six minutes.
This not only gave Cleveland their first win of this trip, but ended a four-game road losing streak. The road trip continues on Saturday as the Cavaliers take on the Utah Jazz, looking to start a win streak.
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