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Cleveland Cavaliers

James, Williams Extinguish the Blazers

By George Thomas Published: January 22, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. - Normally after a loss the Cavaliers come back and take their frustrations out on the next team they face. Although it's certainly more difficult to do on the road, the Cavaliers continued the trend beating the Portland Trail Blazers 104-98 behind the scoring of LeBron James and (34 points) point guard Mo Williams (31 points - a season high).  The team hasn't lost two consecutive games all season. ''One thing I'm very excited about and happy about is the way we bounce back after losses,'' LeBron James said. We never let one hang over our heads.'' Going into the fourth quarter up 74-69, the Cavs were playing good enough defensively to take control of their game against the Portland, the offense was the problem and bouncing back didn't look like a viable option. They opened the quarter with LeBron James on the bench and it was clear to all that when it came to scoring, they looked hesitant with respect to what to do. After James returned, he and Williams took control to guide the Cavaliers in the right direction. ``It's pretty effective, especially when he's drawing attention and knocking down shots,'' Williams said of their collaborative effort.  ``It's basically pick your poison.  One-on-one no one can guard him.'' The Blazers closed the score to within one at 78-77 and suddenly things had grown too close for comfort. Eventually they would hold a lead at 82-81 after point guard Brandon Roy drove to the hoop for the scored and drew the foul and completed a three-point play from the line. This is a game that the Cavs could have lost easily. James began to feel and trust his stroke and broke out the second half hitting his first two jump shots.  Of the first six possessions in the second half, the Cavs took nothing but jump shots, with four coming from James. Of course it's easy to rely on him for scoring, but what happens when it come becomes inconsistent? Therein lies the rub.  The Cavs' success this year has been built on consistent team play and in this game in particular, it looked as if some of the teamwork carefully honed during the course of the first half of the season may be cast aside because the team's currently missing two starters in Delonte West and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Perhaps James sensed that because he eventually began to make an effort to mix his shots, driving to the hoop for layups, but also continuing to throw up the jumpers. ``Tonight was a case of let me go out there and do my thing offensively or you're going to get my team involved,'' James said.  ``But I got hot at one at one point and my teammates started knocking down shots too.'' The Cavs gathered just enough momentum to make a mini-run in an attempt to pull away from the Blazers as they outscored Portland 9-2 to take a six-point lead with 3:35 left in the game.  They would battle back and forth until Mo Williams gave the Cavs a valuable seven-point cushion with a huge three-point shot with two minutes left in the quarter at 95-88.  He all but sealed it with another just moments later to put the Cavs up 98-88 with just 48.9 seconds left in the game. If there were one night Williams needed to step up in a huge way, this would be it.  The Cavs, down two men, got just 15 points from their bench.  But defense played a larger role in this as well, as the Cavaliers cracked down on the Blazers holding them under 41 percent shooting in the game and beat them, though barely, on the boards.  Ultimately they won the game by outshooting them. 
The Cavs shot a blistering 53 percent from the field including almost 58 percent from the 3-point arc.  Williams himself accounted for 6-of-9 shots from that line. The Cavs move on to play Golden State Friday night. Quick shots:  James recorded his fourth double-double in fifth games and also tallied his 11th double-double on the season and the 116th of his career...Williams' 33 points were a season high...Wally Szczerbiak grabbed a season best 10 rebounds...Cleveland had two guys score more than 30 points in a game for the first time since Nov. 5, 2005 when Larry Hughes hit 37 and James 36...The Cavs have not lost two consecutive games this year. *

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