The Blazers lit up with some great shooting in the 2nd half, taking a late lead that looked insurmountable. But Kyrie Irving breathed some life back into the team by scoring nine points in 61 seconds off two three balls and an And-One, bringing the Cavs within two of the Blazers. After getting a big stop and a rebound, Kyrie drove to the lane, drawing a triple team. Irving made a great pass back to a cutting Anderson Varejao who tied the game with seven seconds left.
But then it was Damian Lillard time. Just two nights after hitting a game winner in overtime against the Pistons, Lillard went to his spot and nailed a crushing 30-footer with 0.4 seconds left. Kyrie tried to get off a 33-footer at the buzzer, but his shot just missed and the Blazers left The Q with a hard fought win.
That makes two games in a row the Cavaliers have gone toe-to-toe with a couple of the NBA’s absolute best teams, only to come up just short in the fourth quarter. It’s frustrating to be so close to winning these games only to come up empty handed, but it’s also extremely encouraging to see this team continue growing, showing better effort night in and night out, and just generally getting better. Hopefully these games eventually turn into some big wins.
Now lets get into the numbers:
- 56 – If you want to know why the Cavaliers lost this game, look no further than the rebounding category. The Blazers had 56 total rebounds, with 18 of them being on the offensive glass, leading to 35 second chance points. The Cavaliers could only manage 10 second chance points off 13 offensive boards. LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 15 boards, while he and Robin Lopez had four offensive boards each.
- 25 and 25 – The Cavaliers were led in scoring by Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who each had 25 points. Dion had 15 of his points in the second half and Kyrie had 17 of his own in the second half. Over the last couple weeks the Cavaliers have shown that when both Kyrie and Dion are scoring in the same game, they are an extremely tough team to beat. Consistency has been the downfall of Dion early in his career, but as he improves, if he can consistently add this kind of output, the Cavaliers as a whole are only going to get better.
- 62 – As impressive as the combined 50 points from Kyrie and Dion was, the Blazers’ duo of Lillard and Aldridge was simply better. Lillard had 36 points to lead all scorers while Aldridge added 26 of his own. Make no mistake, this Blazers team is incredibly good. In addition to those two players, Wesley Matthews had 19 points while Nic Batum added 14 points. The Blazers are such a well rounded basketball team and their offense is a joy to watch, just not when they are playing your team.
- 55.6% – The Blazers were 10-of-18 from three point range in the 2nd half. For a while in the third quarter, the Cavaliers appeared to be taking control of the game. But the Blazers started just pouring in three after three. Lillard went 6-for-8 from long distance in the second half, Wesley Matthews was 2-for-4, and Mo Williams added one of his two attempts as well. Some of it was poor closing out, as that tends to be one of the weaker parts of a Mike Brown defense. But you also just have to credit Portland for nailing their shots when they had them.
- 26 to 6 – It’s not often you lose a game when you have an assist to turnover ratio of 26-to-6, but that’s what happened to the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving had 10 assists with zero turnovers in this game, continuing to develop his all around game. Dion Waiters only had one turnover. After too much isolation and sloppy ball control early in the season, the offense has been steadily improving. On most nights the Cavaliers have still had a few too many turnovers, but not in this game.
- 25 to 16 – One of the other areas this game was lost for the Cavaliers was in free throw shooting discrepancy. The Blazers were 22-of-25 from the FT line (88%) while the Cavaliers were just 11-of-16 (68.8%). For whatever reason, Dion Waiters continues to seem unable to get to the free throw line despite his general aggressiveness in going to the rim. Dion was 10-of-11 on jumpers and just 1-of-8 on layups. It’s not all officiating, as sometime Dion goes in a little out of control, but there still seems to be an awful lot of drives with contact that simply aren’t being called.
In all honesty, with the kind of effort and performance the Cavaliers gave in this game, they probably would have beaten 25 other teams in the NBA. But you just have to tip your hat to a great clutch player like Damian Lillard who simply made a great shot. The Cavaliers had their chances and when you get dominated on the glass like Cleveland did in this one, it’s going to be hard to beat a great team like Portland. Now the Cavaliers will have to focus and come back out with this same level of performance Friday at The Q against the Milwaukee Bucks.
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