Blazers lose fourth in a row to Cleveland on tough offensive night
The Portland Trail Blazers made it four consecutive losses with a 114-96 defeat at Cleveland on Wednesday in a game that the Blazers (10-8) were never really in.
Turnovers continue to hurt the Blazers, and the first half against the Cavaliers might have been the biggest example, giving the ball back 12 times.
While Portland couldn't hang on, Cleveland wasn't much better with eight turnovers that led to 16 fast-break points for the Blazers. Meanwhile Cleveland had only three.
Jerami Grant took the role of scorer with star Damian Lillard still nursing a calf injury. The forward put up 21 points in the first 24 on five made 3-pointers to continue his hot streak early from deep.
The issue was Jarrett Allen feasted down low with 16 points and six rebounds in the first half while Donovan Mitchell reminded the Blazers of his Utah days by hitting five 3-pointers as well and putting up 18 first-half points. The Cavs led 57-48 at the break.
Portland was going to need someone to run with Grant in the second half, and it simply never came while Grant slunk to the back as well.
The Blazers only turned the ball over four times in the second half, but they shot below 40% from the field and deep while the Cavs stayed hot and finished the game shooting 55.4% from the field.
Grant didn't score at all in the second half as Nurkic went to work down low in the third and Anfernee Simons had a heater in the fourth. Neither push though ever proved to be enough as the closest Portland got to the lead was six points in a 73-67 margin.
Nurkic had a better second half, but Allen still did his thing by finishing with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Mitchell went to work inside the arc as well and finished with 34 points to lead the game.
The defense that started out so well for Portland has struggled as of late, giving up 109 points or more in the last six games with a 2-4 record.
Offensively, Lillard was missed this game with guys going on solo heaters to keep Portland in it throughout. But having their star in there might have been the consistent presence to make the difference, or at least get the Blazers over the century mark.
The road trip continues at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the New York Knicks
Not enough: Portland didn't miss a single free throw against Cleveland. The issue was the Blazers only took 13 of them. With Lillard out, the Blazers didn't have that same kind of downhill presence, and the size the young Cavs present certainly helps defensively. Still, the Blazers are a team that likes to get points when the clock is stopped and they simply didn't do that enough on Wednesday.
Simons late: With the game looking out of reach, Simons went on a run in the fourth quarter where he scored 11 consecutive points for Portland on three made 3-pointers and a dunk on a nice take to the hoop. The issue? Those 11 were more than half of Simons' 20 points for the game. The young guard has continued to turn it up in the second half, but has been quiet in the first 24. Portland could use that attack mode more at all times, but especially with Lillard still out with the injury.
More turnovers: Portland still had 16 turnovers for the game despite a cleaner second half. Giving those empty possessions can be killer, especially in a game missing your leader. Coming up empty in a game lost by a few more made shots can be the difference and that's what Portland felt once more Wednesday.
Game grade: D-
The streaks that Grant, Nurkic and Simons went on were just enough to keep this one above an F, but not by much. Portland was out of sorts from the jump on offense and their defense couldn't do much to handle Mitchell, Allen and Darius Garland with 24 points and 12 assists, and Evan Mobley with 10 points and 12 boards. Cleveland is a good team, but they're still a team Portland should beat if they want to reach a goal of making it into the top six of the Western Conference standings. Turnovers need to be cleaned up and the effort offensively needs to be there from everyone from the jump.
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