There’s not a whole ton to analyze about this one, so we’ll keep it short. In fact, we could effectively just leave the description at “LeBron James” and I think everyone would get the gist.
41 points on 19 shots for Mr. James. And we thought Brandon Roy was having an efficient week. Anyways, the gameplan appeared to be to allow Martell Webster to isolate with LeBron on the perimeter and throw quick double teams at him off the dribble, which sounds well enough except LeBron jumped over, under and through every single Blazer that came near him, including Webster. You can live with some of the silly shots he was making, but the Blazers dug an early grave with mudslide defense in transition. James had 20 points in the first quater and then went into facilitator mode for the rest of the game. Given our lack of interior defenders, he probably could have ripped Portland’s heart out anytime he wanted.
Thankfully — well, sort of — the Cavs went jumper happy in the third quarter and stopped going through the giant revolving door that was Portland’s paint defense (46 points allowed there), allowing the Blazers to mount a come back with a flurry of jumpers of their own. Initially it felt like fool’s gold, but Cleveland took enough time to regroup that the game could have swung on the strength of 4-5 late possessions, all of which went the Cavs way.
Any ounce of hope Portland had was of course owed to Brandon Roy. 34 points on 23 shots was fine by me, but he crippled his own line by hitting just 3-of-8 free throws. Still, a healthy Portland team is going to win a ton of games with Roy going au natural like this, and a depleted team is going to just hang on enough to make things interesting. Eventually Cleveland got tired of his pump fakes and pull-ups and threw the defensive sink at him late in the fourth, forcing just enough turnovers/stalled possessions to seal the deal.
The difference, as it will be the rest of the season, is whether the Blazers are converting on the open-yet-less-efficient jumpers that Roy creates by just being on the floor. The made them all night against L.A. and won. They only made enough for that second-half run tonight and just kept things respectable.
Though their 23 combined points don’t spell out much of a dominant performance, what Shaq and Anderson Varejao again showed was just how small Portland is inside, in height, weight and body types. Give Aldridge credit for pulling down 13 boards, but despite the effort of young and old, the Blazers were still using boxing gloves when the other guys brought iron knuckles. If Cleveland wasn’t prone to such long stretches of cruddy offense, they would have had this in the bag much earlier.
@travismargoni: Again, can we give Martell due respect for his D? Second half on LBJ was excellent. I like Blake with 7 mpg here on out.
@Toni_Cole: Missed FTs were the deciding factor. If Roy and LA hit theirs, then it’s a whole different picture in that last stretch.
@tmundal: can handle a loss to Lebron with our injuries… But cant handle losing to Varejao.. Cavs need to trade him…to Europe.
@USDBlazerFan: great job by martell and the whole team for slowing down lebron in the last 3 quarters. rough loss, but proud of the comeback.
@trevorthegreat: The Cavs are just so much BIGGER than the Blazers. It’s like Davids vs. Goliaths out there.
Tonight, Roy looked like a high school star at a smaller school who is leagues away from the general talent level on his team. And yet he still creates so many open looks.
LaMarcus Aldridge played fine with 13 boards and 18 points on 11 shots, but I still can’t believe he’s fully healthy out there, otherwise the Blazers would be running much more of the offense through him. He looks like a role player too much of the time.
It’s best we just say Juwan Howard was playing Texas Hold ‘Em trying to beat Shaq’s hands, only Shaq was playing five-card draw. Shaq doesn’t exactly throw down the huge bets anymore, but he bled Portland dry just the same.
I have no problem whatsoever with Andre Miller’s eight assist, one turnover performance. I also have nothing really outstanding to point out about it.
The back-to-back threes were a big part of the comeback, but Webster still wound up shooting 2-for-9 from deep. It’s getting to the point where I just don’t feel all that confident with him as a shooter. As for his defense, he didn’t try any less than he did on Friday against Kobe but this time he was dealing with the supreme physical being. Hands in the shooter’s face don’t work all that well when the shooter’s face is two feet above your hand after jumping. Still, you can’t knock Martell, but you can’t really give him too much credit, either.
Jeff Pendergraph and Dante Cunningham played 17 combined minutes and neither had any more luck than Howard on the inside.
Going to refrain from picking on Blake because there is no way of knowing how he is feeling. Cut the guy some slack.
Less than 15 minutes from Jerryd Bayless is shocking to see in the box score. He wasn’t particularily effective in the first half, but given Portland’s lack of playmakers at this point, you would think he deserves the opportunity to try and play his way out of the funk. He’s at least earned that much.