The Cavaliers began their six-game road trip Friday in Portland against the Blazers. Fortunately for Cleveland, Portland was without their two leading scorers in Damian Lillard(Abdomen) and C.J. McCollum(Lung), and they were missing Larry Nance Jr.(Knee).
Cleveland led 57-47 at halftime and would take an 82-78 lead into the fourth. After Nassir Little’s three cut the lead to 90-87 with just over eight minutes left, the Cavs went on a 7-0 run to push the lead to 10 and would defeat Portland 114-101 at Moda Center.
With the win over the Blazers, the Cavs(22-17) swept the season series and won in Portland for first time since 2013.
Portland(14-24) has lost two straight and six of their last seven.
Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Blazers:
The Great for the Cavaliers:
-Darius Garland continued his strong play after returning from COVID. He scored eight of his 26 points in the fourth. Garland also added six assists. This was his sixth straight 20-plus point game as he continues to make his case for being an All-Star.
The third-year guard, who made a game-high tying five threes, had an incredible sequence late in the fourth. With the Cavs leading by eight with just over two minutes to go, he assisted on a dunk from Evan Mobley and made a great hustle play, where he made a steal and got credited with a basket after Jusuf Nurkic was called for a goaltend.
nice sequence here from Darius Garland to seal the W in Portland pic.twitter.com/aWYJZPXw2j
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 8, 2022
-Evan Mobley had another solid all-around game. He scored 18 points, pulled down eight rebounds, dished out three assists, added two blocks and a steal.
-Cedi Osman is back after missing six games due to COVID, and he was huge in the fourth. Osman scored 12 of his 14 points in the final period, including four threes off the Cavs’ bench. After Portland cut the t0 101-96 with just over three minutes to go, Osman would hit a big three to push the lead to eight.
The fifth-year forward continues to give Cleveland great production off the bench this season.
-Rajon Rondo made his Cavs’ debut Friday night and recorded a season-high 11 points off the bench. In addition, the 16-year veteran added five rebounds and three assists in 17 minutes of action.
Rondo got off to a great start and had three points, three rebounds, and three assists in five minutes of action in the first quarter.
-Jarrett Allen had his third straight double-double following his return from COVID. Allen had 13 points and 13 rebounds, and a team-best +16 rating.
The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:
Rebounding: Portland outrebounded the Cavs 51-43 and outscored them 21-10 in second-chance points. Cleveland overcame the glass on this night, but you don’t want this to be an issue going forward.
Portland was without their two best players, so this was a game Cleveland should have won.
However, that does not take away from what we saw from Garland, who made big plays in the fourth; Osman, who caught fire in the final quarter; and Rondo, who gave this team a professional point guard off the bench.
“It was fun; the first couple plays were kinda like, `Dang, that’s Rondo on the floor.'” Garland said.
Cleveland continues their six-game road trip Sunday night against the Warriors, who are expected to have Klay Thompson back, which should make for a fun night in San Francisco.
Best of the Rest:
Portland had five players in double figures led by Norman Powell’s 19 points. Nurkic added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
-Lauri Markkanen added 15 points and five assists for the Cavaliers.
Watch Below as Rondo talks debut with Cavs:
On Wednesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers(21-45) lost their eighth straight game as they fell to the Portland Trailblazers(37-29) 141-105 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Cleveland ended their five-game homestand 0-5.
Damian Lillard had a game-high 32 points, including six threes for Portland. Kevin Love led the Cavs with 18 points.
However, this night was about the return of Anderson Varejao. The 38-year-old Varejao, who signed a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers this week, had one point, six rebounds, and one assist in seven minutes against the Blazers. This was Varejao’s first action in over two years(played in Brazil), his first time playing with the Cavs since 2016, and his first time on an NBA court since 2017.
Varejao spent the first 12 years of his career with the Cavaliers and kept a home in Cleveland after his time with the Cavs was over.
When he entered the game midway through the fourth quarter, Varejao got a rousing ovation from the Cavalier faithful. After the loss to the Blazers, Varejao reacted to his return to the NBA.
“It felt great to be out there again,” Varejao said. “As I said before, I love Cleveland; I love the fans. Once again, they gave me the support I needed tonight.
“It has been a while that I played five-on-five or any type of contact in basketball in almost two years, but it felt great to be out there. To be honest with you, I was really surprised the way I felt.”
The 13-year veteran was also happy to have his wife and young daughter watch him play on Wednesday night.
“My family was at the game,” Varejao said. “That was just very special for me to have my wife and my little daughter, Serenee, she’s one years old. I’m not going to forget this day. This is the first time I played in front of my daughter. Special day for me.”
You have to feel happy for Varejao. Not many players get the opportunity to end their career where it started and the chance to play in front of their family. Varejao is getting all of that right now.
Cleveland hopes to break their eight-game losing streak in Dallas against the Mavericks on Friday night.
The San Antonio Spurs(26-28) had a golden opportunity to gain some ground in the Western Conference standings on Friday night against the Portland Trailblazers(32-23). Portland was without their leading scorer Damian Lillard(hamstring). However, behind C.J. McCollum’s 29 points and 22 from Norman Powell, the Blazers defeated San Antonio 107-106 at AT&T Center.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 26 points, and Dejounte Murray became the fourth Spur to record three triple-doubles in a single season when he had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists on Friday night.
San Antonio led most of the game and led by as much as 16 points in the third quarter, but Portland closed the third quarter on a 24-8 run to close the gap to two entering the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair, which included seven lead changes, and the Blazers went up for good when Norman Powell made a driving layup with 22.8 seconds left. San Antonio had one final chance to take the lead, but DeRozan would miss a baseline jumper, and Jakob Poeltl would miss the follow at the buzzer.
DeRozan had a few words with the officials after the game. According to DeRozan, Poeltl was fouled on his shot at the end of the game.
‘It looked liked when Jakob(Poeltl) got the rebound, he got hit,” DeRozan said. “It looked like a foul to me.”
Foul or no foul, the Spurs lose another home game and continue to struggle at AT&T Center, where they are now 12-18. Maybe some good news for the Spurs as they go on the road to battle the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. San Antonio is 14-10 away from home, but beating Suns, who have the second-best record in basketball, won’t be easy.
San Antonio, who has lost seven of their last nine games, also continues to dip in the standings. They are now the 10th seed in the Western Conference and are one game behind the Warriors for the 9th seed. The Spurs are two games up on the 11th-seeded New Orleans Pelicans, so it’s starting to get a little tight for the Spurs in terms of their playoff spot. Teams 7-10 will be compete in a play-in tournament
The 2000 Portland Trail Blazers were on the verge of beating the Shaq & Kobe led Lakers in Game 7 of Western Conference Finals, but disaster struck. After being up by 13 points heading into the fourth quarter, it all fell apart. The Blazers were outscored 31-13 in the final quarter and would lose 89-84.
Portland was talented and deep at every position in 2000. Led by Scottie Pippen and Rasheed Wallace, the team won 59 games that season, which was the second-best record in the league behind the Lakers.
Here is Portland’s depth chart, according to basketball-reference.com. Look how deep they were at every position:
Point Guard: Damon Stoudamire, Greg Anthony, Gary Grant
Shooting Guard: Steve Smith, Stacey Augmon
Small Forward: Scottie Pippen, Detlef Schrempf, Bonzi Wells
Power Forward: Rasheed Wallace, Brian Grant, Antonio Harvey
Center: Arvydas Sabonis, Jermaine O’Neal, Joe Kleine
Former Blazers star Bonzi Wells, who was apart of the 2000 Blazers, believes Portland would have been a juggernaut for years to come if they would have beaten the Lakers on that day.
“We would have been a dynasty,” Wells told goforitradio.com. “Back then, we were too black for TV. They did not want us to win no championship. They wanted the darlings. We were just too much for TV; we were too street for them.”
Things were never the same in Portland after 2000. If you remember, the “Jail Blazers” era began in Portland. During that time, many players on those teams were getting into a lot of trouble off the court.
In the end, if they beat the Lakers in WCF, they probably beat the Pacers in the NBA Finals in 2000. After that, who knows what would have happened.
Listen below as Wells talks 2000 Blazers. BIG3, “Super Teams” in the NBA, and LeBron to the Lakers: