Cleveland Cavaliers 78 – Portland Trail Blazers 98

LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals to lead the Portland Trail Blazers over the Cleveland Cavaliers 98 – 78 at the Rose Garden. The Blazers controlled the game from the start, but they were unable to pull away first half due to poor shootings. Aldridge scored 20 points on 7 of 11 field goals and the Blazers scored 56 points in the second half to pull away to a victory. Wesley Matthews played well with 24 points, and Gerald Wallace contributed 16 points for the Blazers.

Portland will host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday at 7:00PM at the Rose Garden. The Blazers lost to the Clippers 88-93 in Los Angeles on New Year day.

Quotes:

“It wasn’t as bad as the Phoenix game. In Phoenix, I felt like everybody was moving two steps slow. Tonight. we were just a little bit slow. Then we started playing defense and got some steals, and that opened the game up for us.” – LaMarcus Aldridge

“Once we got our second wind the second half, we started to play better basketball, establish a defensive presence and were able to break this game open.” – Nate McMillan

Extended Thoughts from JiD

If you thought this win erased the troubles exposed during the Phoenix game last Friday, you might be in for a rude awakening.  A very weak start against a poor opponent and a required “second wind” in order to beat them is not a good sign.  It’s hard to go from the elation of the Lakers victory to a doom-and-gloom mindset, but there are some troubling trends. Shooting remains a problem, whether this is a product of the off-season or “tired legs” remains to be seen, but a few more buckets don’t drop Portland’s way in this one and few do for Cleveland and you get a repeat of the Suns game.  This same “tried legs” excuse explains the return to my favorite pet-peeve of constant switches, mainly by LaMarcus, leaving him to take on a point guard and our point to take on a 4 or 5.  Not a good recipe.

Some NBA writers have suggested this is to be expected, that good teams are going to get randomly blown out due to the schedule and the tiredness of team. OK, I can accept that. But, ponder this: the Trail Blazers have had a relatively light schedule compared to many teams. OKC just finished a back-to-back-to-back and have played 2 more games than Portland. They have continued to look sharp. What happens when Portland hits a similarly rough stretch?  I’ve heard the “running through quicksand” reference several times this season already. How do you go slower than that on the 3rd game in consecutive nights?  It’s troubling.  At some point you hope for conditioning to come around, but does a compressed schedule negate that?

The Blazers were also out-rebounded again at Cleveland.  If they want to hold home court and get a revenge win against the Clippers, they must contain Griffin and Jordan and take a healthy rebound advantage.  Turnovers need to stay at 12 or less. L.A. cannot switch on the pick and roll vs Chris Paul every time or he or his point guard will get exploited. And, you hear Nate say it all the time, they have got to hit their open shots, 47% or better will be needed.  One guy, Wesley Matthews, hitting shots may be enough vs the Cavaliers, it will not be enough against the Clips.  Look for the Blazers to pull off a win here, evening the season series; then watch out for “tired legs” vs Orlando on the back-to-back. I expect a shooting rebound from Crawford and Felton and the ghost of Nicolas Batum is lurking somewhere, waiting for an opportunity…   – JamesInDigital

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