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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Game 39: Cavs at Trail Blazers

Moda Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: The Trail Blazers are one of the top teams in the NBA. The Cavs went toe-to-toe with the Blazers until the last three minutes.

Center Anderson Varejao's tip-in with 2:54 to play knotted the score at 96. The Cavs didn't score again in the game, as the Blazers closed the game by scoring 12 unanswered points.

The Cavs missed their last six field-goal attempts. It would have been a signature victory for the Cavs, but it wasn't to be.

The Blazers are now 16-4 at home this season.

The last time these two teams clashed, it was an instant classic. The Trail Blazers nipped the Cavs, 119-116, on Dec. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena. Point guard Damian Lillard played out of his mind with 36 points and 10 assists, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining. He wasn't too shabby on Wednesday, either, with 28 points, six rebounds and five assists.

He, obviously, got up for his matchup against Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving, in line to start in the All-Star Game for the Eastern Conference. 

Irving was very good in that game, too, with 25 points and 10 assists. He managed 21 points for the Cavs on Wednesday, but was 7 of 20 from the field, 1 of 7 from the 3-point line.

The Blazers have a lot of firepower, led by All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with a game-high 32 points and 18 rebounds. He's one of the very best players in the league and is a bonafide MVP candidate.

Despite his superior size, what makes his so dangerous is his ability to step out on the floor for the 18-foot jumper. Most big men don't want to venture out on the floor to cover him. He had a huge 3 with the shot clock running out on Wednesday. It was his lone 3 of the season.

The Cavs just didn't have anyone who could keep up with Aldridge, who said recently he'd like to sign long term with the Blazers. 

The previous three games between the two teams have been decided by five points or fewer. The Cavs upset Portland on the road last year. However, it's their only win in the last seven games in the series.

I had a sneaking feeling the Cavs were going to show up on Wednesday. They've now won three of their last five games. They are also 2-2 on this five-game, eight-day West Coast trip.

The sojourn concludes on Friday in Denver. They need to knock off the Nuggets to salvage a winning record on the trip.

The Cavs 4-17 on the road this season.

Portland's Terry Stotts is going to get strong consideration for Coach of the Year. He added former Cavs assistant Nate Tibbetts to his staff in the offseason.

Cavs forward Luol Deng was very good on Wednesday with a team-high 25 points. He had 52 points in the back-to-back games vs. the Lakers and Blazers.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Denver at 9 p.m. Friday at Pepsi Center.

SF Luol Deng (6-9, 220) vs. Nicolas Batum (6-8, 220)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. LaMarcus Aldridge (6-11, 250)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Robin Lopez (7-0, 265)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Wesley Matthews (6-5, 214)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Damian Lillard (6-3, 195)
Cavs - G Sergey Karasev, G Carrick Felix
Trail Blazers - F Victor Claver, G Allen Crabbe
Tony Brothers, Pat Fraher, Scott Twardoski


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