Cavs 88, Blazers 80 --This was a playoff-type game, at least an Eastern Conference playoff game. The Blazers were swarming on LeBron James and he was setting teammates up. At the defensive end, the Blazers were pretty much running the same play over and over by setting up LaMarcus Aldridge in the mid-post and working everything off him. The Cavs started trapping him down the stretch and then had some really good defensive rotations to challenge shots. --The Cavs only had one turnover in the second half and held Portland to just 37 points. They gave up 15 offensive rebounds but just nine second-chance points, so they were able to survive that. Overall, that is an efficient effort at both ends, even if the game was quite ugly. --LeBron said after the game that he didn't think he played well, even though he had a triple-double. He didn't shoot well, that is true, but I thought his overall game was pretty good. He was really able to make the right pass most of the time, especially in crunch time. If his teammates were able to hit some shots, he would've easily had 15 assists. It was the fewest points he's scored in 22 games, but the most assists he's had in five games. That is how he will have to play many times in the playoffs. --I spoke with Ben Wallace after the game. He missed the second half with back spasms, which explains why he looked so flat-footed in the first half to me. He said it has been bothering him for a couple days, he sat out practice yesterday. He's hoping it will loosen up over the next couple days, he is trying to treat it but it isn't getting better right now. It is remarkable the Cavs were able to do what they did with their top two bigs out, Andy Varejao and Joe Smith combined for 34 points and 14 rebounds. That is quality depth. --I thought Devin Brown did a pretty good job fighting Brandon Roy. He got inside a few times, but for the most part he kept him outside and made him take jumpers. Roy didn't seem that active, even in the fourth when the Blazers wanted to go to him more. --Damon Jones wore a camouflage hoodie to the game tonight and on the back the word "Handsome" was spelled out in sequins. Last year he wore around a winter coat that had "Damon Jones" on the back. Just in case "Jones" wasn't enough. The license plate on one of his Mercedes is 4Point6, the amount of time that was left on the clock when he hit that series-winning shot against the Wizards two years ago. By the way, the get ready to say goodbye to the MoHawk, he says he's shaving it off after the road games at Washington and New Jersey.
Blazers: Steve Blake, Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Przybilla Cavs: Delonte West, Devin Brown, LeBron James, Ben Wallace, Anderson Varejao
Officials Tom Washington, Sean Corbin, Mark Lindsay
--The Blazers have fallen on hard times, or some would say, gotten back to reality, since the Cavs last saw them. They have won two straight but have really struggled on offense. They play much more like an Eastern Conference team, they grind out games and play pretty good defense. They are not a great rebounding team but they do block a lot of shots. --A key matchup with be Aldridge on Wallace. Ben should be able to clear him off the boards with his size, but LaMarcus likes to go out and shoot in the mid-range and Ben doesn't like to go out there much. Both Przybilla and Aldridge are good offensive rebounds, though. Portland can get hot shooting from the outside and the Cavs have been a little lazy in their rotations of late. --The Cavs may have some matchup issues with Brandon Roy. LeBron may guard him late but during the game Devin Brown and Wally Szczerbiak will probably get the assignment. Could be a tough one for both, Roy is a great young player. --LeBron has been hot and he's way too physical for anyone the Blazers have to defend him. If his shot is falling, it could be another 40-point night.
Halftime -- Blazers 43, Cavs 39 --It is a significant miracle the Cavs are down just four points in this game. They have been completely outplayed and out hustled. Their effort around the glass reminds me of last week in Chicago, they are being very lethargic and just getting beat. The Blazers haven't take much advantage, they are not playing all that well either. --This is, by far, the worst Ben Wallace has looked in a Cavs uniform. Aldridge has 17 points, mostly on him, because he's just been quicker and more athletic. Ben has five rebounds but three of them came flat-footed, which he mostly is in this game. He is a step slower, which we've seen for several weeks now, but his effort level also seems off and that he can control. Mike Brown had to pull him in the first quarter he was getting beat so bad to rebounds and in defensive spots. He's also 0-of-4 from the field and hasn't taken a shot from more than two feet away. That, though, is just him. He never shots more than a few feet from the basket and he's still shooting less than 40 percent. Joe Smith made an instant impact when he came in the game because he presents an offensive threat. If Mike Brown wanted to put his best team on the floor, he'd put Smith in to start the second half and then bring Wallace or Varejao off the bench. --Devin Brown is really playing at a high level right now. There is no way this guy should lose playing time when Sasha Pavlovic comes back, which could be next week. When the Cavs are at their worst, he is working on defense and attempting to drive the ball and create on offense. --LeBron is playing a solid game, though he has just nine points. He's got four rebounds and five assists. He hasn't had much space to operate because the Blazers are swarming him and who can blame them when Anderson Varejao, Ben Wallace and Dwayne Jones are on the floor. He's taken just nine shots and at least three or four have been total forces. --Brandon Roy hasn't done much at all in the half, which should worry the Cavs.
Stars LeBron, 24 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists Varejao, 16 points, nine rebounds Smith, 16 points, five rebounds Aldridge, 25 points, 10 rebounds
Quotes: Mike Brown: "This has to be up there as one of the top performances defensively since we made the trade." LeBron: "I didn't feel like I played particularly well, but we got the win. If you didn't play well and you have a triple-double, then something is wrong. I found other ways to control the game in the fourth quarter."