Cavaliers pull away in second half
In a game that featured the return of two previously injured star guards, the Cleveland Cavaliers turned on enough LeBron James and more in the second half to beat the Trail Blazers 127-110 Tuesday night at Cleveland.
Damian Lillard retuned from a five-game absence and hamstring injury for the Blazers, and former Boston star Isaiah Thomas played for the first time all season for his new team, the Cavaliers.
Lillard started and was effective on offense, scoring a team-high 25 points and making 8 of 15 shots, including 6 of 9 from 3-point range.
Thomas came off the bench and tallied 17 points in 18 minutes, going 6 of 12 from the field.
James had 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Starting Cleveland center Kevin Love, the veteran from Lake Oswego High, had seven points on 2-for-4 shooting in the first half and finished with 19 points and seven rebounds. He had some key 3-pointers in the pivotal third quarter.
Cleveland's bench outscored the Portland reserves, 61-23.
The Blazers fell to 19-18. They will return home to face Atlanta on Friday and San Antonio on Sunday.
The Cavs improved to 25-12, winning at home for the 13th consecutive game.
Lillard missed his first 3 shots, then hit a deep 3 as Portland enjoyed a first-quarter lead until a bit of a rush by the Cavs tied the score at 28-28 after the opening 12 minutes.
With Portland's Big 3 — Jusuf Nurkic, CJ McCollum and Lillard — all clicking on offense, the Blazers went on top 56-46 late in the second quarter.
Nurkic took a bump on the noggin from James in the final minute of the frame but stayed on the floor.
At the half, Nurkic had 13 points, McCollum 14 and Lillard 12 — they were a combined 16 of 26 from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point range — and Portland had a 56-53 lead.
Evan Turner also was in on the offense, getting 10 of his 15 points.
James (16 points) and Jae Crowder (10 of his 17) led Cleveland's attack.
The Cavs had a 91-87 lead going into the final quarter and stretched their advantage to 101-91 just 3:15 into the period.
Just inside the midway mark of the fourth, the Cavaliers had a 114-97 lead as the Blazers appeared to tire.
Nurkic had 23 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes, and McCollum totaled 19 points in 36 minutes.
Lillard had six assists but also seven turnovers.