Cleveland Cavaliers crushed by Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers, 141-105

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Kevin Love said it would be special to wear a Portland Trail Blazers jersey one day. You can see why he thinks that.

The Blazers carried the exhausted Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night, 141-105. It’s Cleveland’s eighth straight loss, continuing a joy-sucking end-of-season meltdown.

Play the second game in a row, after an emotional overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns with essentially seven players. All of this would have made things difficult enough against any opponent. But on Wednesday, it was the surgical and forward Blazers who came into the evening winners of four of the previous five games and brag about MVP candidate Damian Lillard.

The Cavs hung for a quarter before disappearing.

“I thought we tried,” Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said. “I thought our guys were exhausted. In the first 24 we competed and gave what we had, but I thought in the second half they had more juice than us and took advantage of it. I thought our guys gave what they had tonight, we just didn’t have enough in the tank.

In a recent interview on the Posted Up podcast with Chris Haynes, Love was specifically asked about the possibility of playing at home. He quickly replied, “Who wouldn’t want to play with Dame Lillard?” He is special.

Of course. Lillard played with the Cavs all night. He set the tone with a first quarter of 16 points, easily passing long and disputed 3 points. Then Lillard punctuated a 12-0 Blazers run at the end of the third quarter with a merciless triple to the buzzer. Even Lillard impressed himself with the bucket, hopping around while injured Larry Nance Jr. shrugged at Damyean Dotson – the player attempting to defend Lillard on that attempt. A great offense beats a great defense most of the time.

Minutes before this bombshell, the Cavs had reduced the deficit to 10 manageable points. It looked like they were ready for one last push. By the time Lillard walked over to the bench, the Blazers were up 22. Dame Time arrived earlier than usual. He didn’t need to play the rest of the night.

Lillard finished with 32 points on 10 of 17 shots, including 6 of 10 3-pointers to go with nine assists in 31 minutes.

“We’re talking about the guards in our league and he’s in the elite elite class,” Bickerstaff said of Lillard. “He’s a guy who’s not only capable or a great goalscorer, but he’s a guy who has an impact on winning to the highest degree. And the shots he takes which can be difficult are hugely determined in how they affect their team’s victory. How he takes those jumping circle shots literally stretches your defense down half the court. It improves the big players on the pitch. He plays with that courage and that chip on his shoulder every night and that’s what I would like our young people to remember him.

Enes Kanter added 18 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. Carmelo Anthony scored 16 points. Burly Jusuf Nurkic pounded Cleveland on the inside, scoring 15 points to go with 11 boards and four blocks.

Love paved the way for the Cavs in the scoring department. He had 18 of 7 of 14 points from the field and 4 of 10 from beyond the arc in 26 minutes. Cleveland, however, was edged out by 45 points, the team’s worst, with him on the ground. He became only the eighth player since 1997 with a minus-45 or worse in 26 minutes or less.

Dean Wade had 16 points. Collin Sexton had a rare night off, ending a 20-point streak in 15 straight games. Sexton finished with 15 points on 6 of 15 shots, looking uncomfortable against the Blazers defense that weighed him down in length all night.

Rookie Isaac Okoro, less than 24 hours after racking up a career-high 32 points, playing 47 minutes and needing an IV after the game, had just seven points, missing seven of his nine shot attempts .

At 6:37 of the fourth quarter, 38-year-old veteran Anderson Varejao made his way to the goalscoring table and signed up for his first NBA action since 2017. Celebrated fan favorite Varejao for 12 memorable seasons in Cleveland, getting a strong career start, waved to the crowd while being showered with rowdy chants of “An-dy, An-dy, An-dy.” Nance even threw on a “Wild Thing” wing to commemorate the occasion.

“Special day for me. I will never forget that day, because of it all, ”said Varejao. “To be honest, when I arrived, I felt like I would never leave. Just with the fans clapping and happy to see me. Because I was very excited and happy to see them.

Every time Varejao touched the ball, fans went crazy, hoping he would score. In seven minutes, Varejao had one point, six rebounds, one assist and one block. He missed all four of his shooting attempts.

Varejao’s return was all fans had to celebrate on Wednesday. That may be the case for the rest of this season.

Paint job

Not only did the Blazers connect from deep, hitting 16 triples on the night, Portland also won the battle on the inside, edging Cleveland in the paint, 64-34. The Blazers were 32 of 49 on those shots. The Cavs were just 17 of 38.

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The Cavs will hit the road, facing the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night. Tip time is 8:30 p.m.

New Cavs Face Masks For Sale: Here’s where you can purchase Cleveland Cavaliers-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All NBA profits have been donated to charity.

More Cavaliers coverage

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Can the Cavaliers complete a rebuild like the Phoenix Suns finally did?

Okoro shows two-way potential in losing OT to the Suns

Varejao returns: ‘I feel great, Cleveland is home for me’

Sexton doesn’t shy away from continuous criticism

Love, The Cavs, and Why It’s Tough For Both: Podcast

Can love be redeemed? Should it be? And a profession? Pluto

In search of small wins as end-of-season meltdown continues

Love’s best game isn’t enough in shorthanded loss to Miami


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