Back-to-backs are tough in the NBA. Back-to-backs on the road are even more difficult. Back-to-backs on the road where the first game is closely contested and the second is against one of the best teams in the NBA is near impossible for a team trying to claw its way back into the playoff picture.
This is where the Cleveland Cavaliers found themselves last night, one day removed from a 120-118 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, facing the Portland Trail Blazers with the second-best record in the NBA. The Cavs played well throughout, but eventually succumbed to the hot-shooting Blazers 108-96.
Cleveland hung around most of the game, including leading by as many as eight at one point in the night. In the end though, Portland caught fire with just over three minutes remaining in the game to go on a 12-0 run to secure the win.
The run started with LaMarcus Aldridge knocking down a rare three pointer to give the Trail Blazers a one-point lead with the shot clock expiring. It was Aldridge's first made three-point attempt this season and he is now 22-108 in his career.
After that, it seemed Portland could not miss from long range, as Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews had back-to-back long-range makes. During that same run, the Cavaliers were 0-6 on triple attempts and only shot 26.1% on the night.
Aldridge led the Blazers with 32 points and 18 rebounds. Lillard also had a good night, finishing with 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists, shooting 50% from the floor and from three.
The Trail Blazers also benefited from 15 points from Matthews and eight points and seven assists from former Cavalier Mo Williams.
Cleveland was led by 25 points from Luol Deng, but he was only able to make 2-7 from three-point range after going 5-5 against the Lakers. Kyrie Irving scored 21 points, but was 7-20 on the night and had just four assists.
Dion Waiters put in a good performance, shooting 8-19 for 18 points and added three assists.
The Cavs have one day off before they finish up this five-game road trip on Friday against the Denver Nuggets. With a win in that one, the Cavaliers will go 3-2 on the trip before returning home for five-straight at Quicken Loans Arena.
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