CLEVELAND: Heading into Saturday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, someone reminded coach Byron Scott that his team hadn’t won two consecutive games all season.
Actually, the Cavs hadn’t enjoyed an official win streak dating back to last season, when they won three consecutive games from March 7-11, going more than half a season without a streak. He had just one goal returning home after a win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks.
“They played [Friday]; we played [Friday],” Scott said. “It’s just a matter of who wants it more. It would be nice to get on a little bit of a roll.”
That roll will officially wait as the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Cavs 118-117 in double overtime on a 3-point shot by Nicolas Batum with two-tenths of a second left in front of a rambunctious crowd at Quicken Loans Arena.
With both teams coming off games the night before, it almost felt like they were sleepwalking through the first three quarters and saved their best for the latter stages of the game.
But it was Batum who found a soft spot in the left corner and drained the shot to silence the crowd once and for all. The shot came after Alonzo Gee made 1-of-2 free throws with 2.5 seconds left in the game.
“It was a hell of a shot. He caught it. He threw it up. He was off balance and it went in. The game really didn’t come down to that last shot to be honest with you,” Scott said.
Gee led the way for the Cavs with 22 points, four rebounds and three assists, followed by Anderson Varejao with 19 points and 17 rebounds, his eighth consecutive double-double.
In all, eight Cavaliers scored in double figures. Point guard Damian Lillard led five Trail Blazers in double figures with 24 points and 11 assists, followed by Batum with 22 points and seven rebounds.
The Cavs had their chances, including early in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t sustain any type of rhythm, allowing Portland to battle back.
They surrendered an eight-point lead in that quarter after they looked as if they were finally ready to take the game over. While the Trail Blazers shot a respectable 49 percent from the floor, the Cavs didn’t show a lot of patience in their offense, looking for quick baskets and settling for 3s throughout regulation.
“If they’re all good 3s, yeah,” Scott said when asked if he approved of the 35 3s the team shot on the night. “To really answer [the] question, no because I thought a few of them were bad shots. You have to be a little bit smarter. Again, that goes back to playing smart.”
Sometimes, however, it takes just one shot to make a difference. As blah as the Cavs shot from the arc, Jeremy Pargo, starting for the injured Kyrie Irving, came up with a big shot with his team down by three points.
Rookie Dion Waiters found Pargo on the right wing for a wide-open shot that he drained to tie the game at 89.
The Cavs took a 91-89 lead on a Tristan Thompson dunk, but a goal-tending call tied the game at 91 and sent the it to overtime after the Trail Blazers’ Aldridge couldn’t connect on a free throw given on the continuation play.
Sort of a homecoming
Forward and former No. 1 draft choice for the Cavs J.J. Hickson returned to Quicken Loans Arena as a member of the Blazers on Saturday sporting some decent numbers — 11.4 points, 10.6 rebounds per game. Scott said that he was aware of how Hickson is playing. “The biggest thing is I think that he’s matured. I think he’s doing the things he’s very capable of doing — rebounding, running the floor and when he has the open shot he’s taking it,” he said.
Rookie guard Dion Waiters went down with a left ankle sprain at 1:49 of the second overtime with a left ankle sprain. X-rays were performed at the arena and were negative.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.