Portland Trail Blazers

Nurkic continues to lift Blazers

Portland's new center shows off again in overtime win
Associated Press

PORTLAND — Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts called it "Nurkic Fever" before the game, and the love for Jusuf Nurkic had only grown by the end of the night.

The 7-foot center had a career-high 28 points and 20 rebounds, and Portland beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-108 in overtime on Thursday.

Nurkic, who was acquired last month in a trade with Denver, also had eight assists and six blocks in Portland's season-high fourth straight win.

The "Bosnian Beast" has quickly become a fan favorite for the Trail Blazers, and Stotts was asked before the game if he was surprised. "It's easy to do," the coach said. "Nurkic fever? Why not?"

On the court afterward, Nurkic smiled when he was told about the coach's comments. The crowd roared.

"I love being here," he said. "I appreciate what the city is doing for me. I just want to give them back something."

Damian Lillard added 24 points for Portland, but did not make a 3-pointer, snapping a streak of 42 games with at least one 3.

Philadelphia rookie Dario Saric had a season-best 28 points, while Robert Covington scored 24 in the 76ers' sixth loss in seven games.

Covington's layup at the buzzer in regulation tied at 97. Nurkic's tip-in gave the Blazers a 102-99 lead, but Covington made a 3-pointer to tie it again at 102.

Lillard's free throws gave Portland a 106-104 lead with under two minutes left in the extra period. His layup extended the lead to four.

Allen Crabbe's floater with 20.9 seconds left helped seal the victory for the Blazers.

"That's as dominant a performance as we have played against this year from an interior player," 76ers coach Brett Brown said about Nurkic. "Twenty rebounds and 28 points. That's a dominant effort."

Nurkic has been a spark for Portland, one of a number of teams jockeying for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It began the day in ninth in the standings, just below the Denver Nuggets.


Portland bests hot Cousins

Blazers defense snubs the Kings in 112-95 win
Jan. 26, 2016 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - DeMarcus Cousins didn’t have it Tuesday night.

The Sacramento Kings forward, unstoppable in the Kings’ past two games, found his match in the Portland Trail Blazers’ defense.

Cousins, coming off games of 56 and 48 points, missed 17 of his 21 shots and scored just 17 points against Portland interior defense in the Blazers’ 112-95 win at the Moda Center.

C.J. McCollum scored 18 points, Damian Lillard had 15 points and 13 assists as Portland had seven players score in double figures.

With the win, Portland (21-26) moved into a virtual tie with Sacramento (20-25) for eighth in the Western Conference. The Blazers have won six of their past eight.

Cousins was coming off a franchise-high 56-point performance Monday night against Charlotte, but never got untracked against a Portland defense led by Meyers Leonard and Mason Plumlee.

Cousins missed nine of his first 10 shots and went 1-of-7 during the second half before leaving midway through the fourth quarter with Portland having the game in hand. Cousins also struggled at the free throw line, making 9 of 17.

“He’s a very good player, able to score in many ways, but I thought for the most part we did a good job on him,” Leonard said. “We were really locked in on what we needed to do tonight and it was just a great team effort.”

Though Cousins played 46 minutes before fouling out against Charlotte, Sacramento coach George Karl was hesitant to use fatigue as a reason for Cousins’ sub-par outing.

“As a coach I don’t like that excuse. As a human being, it’s probably a justifiable excuse,” Karl said. “He’s been so good I’m not going to complain. He’s been our horse and we’ve ridden him to a lot of good things.”

Portland’s offensive balance also played a big role in the Blazers’ win. Seven players scored between 11 and 18 points. Portland reserves Gerald Henderson, Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis were among those in double figures.

“Their bench hurt us more and that’s a sign of a good team. When you overshoot your emphasis on their No. 1 and 2 strengths, it usually opens up other opportunities. They had some guys jump in and take advantage of that,” Karl said.

Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 11 assists for the Kings, who lost in double overtime on Monday night.

Portland led 58-52 at halftime after leading for most of the first half.

The Trail Blazers maintained a narrow margin for much of the third quarter, but momentum eventually moved in their favor after Cousins missed two free throws, then committed an offensive foul. Portland immediately scored seven consecutive points for its largest lead of the game at 81-67.

Portland led 88-74 after three and continued to pour it on early in the fourth quarter. Crabbe and Henderson hit 3-pointers as the Blazers increased their lead to 100-79 with eight minutes remaining.

Blazers bid Kobe adieu

Portland routes Lakers in Bryant's final game in the Rose City
Jan. 23, 2016 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - While Damian Lillard was the star of Portland’s victory over the Lakers, it was Kobe Bryant’s night.

Lillard had 36 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Trail Blazers beat Los Angeles 121-103 on Saturday night for Bryant’s last game in Portland.

“Growing up, I was a Warriors fan but when the playoffs came I was a Lakers fan because we never made the playoffs. I was on Kobe’s back, like, `Let’s go Kobe, let’s go Shaq.” Lillard said. “Now to play against him, and to know him, it’s been a pleasure.”

CJ McCollum added 28 points for the Blazers, who led by as many as 27 points in the first half on the way to their eighth straight victory over the Lakers.

D’Angelo Russell came off the bench with 21 points for the Lakers, who dropped their sixth straight game. But all eyes were on Bryant, a Portland nemesis dating back to the 2000 Western Conference finals, who finished with 10 points.

It was the second of a back-to-back for the Lakers, who fell 108-95 to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. The game was played on the 10th anniversary of Bryant’s 81-point game against Toronto, which remains the second-highest scoring game in NBA history.

Because of the back-to-back, there was speculation that Bryant would not even play against the Blazers, but he started. It was Bryant’s 62nd career game against Portland.

Bryan finishes 6-26 in Portland, his worst record in any city. But while the Blazers have pestered him during regular season games, most fans remember the 2000 conference finals. Portland was up by 15 points in the fourth quarter of Game 7, but the Lakers -- led by Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal -- came back to win.

Still, there is grudging respect for Bryant, evident in the mixture of cheers and boos when Bryant was announced in pregame introductions, and an occasional “Kobe! Kobe!” chant broke out among the fans.

“There were too many Lakers’ supporters for my taste, but I’m glad they showed Kobe some appreciation,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said, adding with a grin, “maybe a little too much.”

Bryant called the night “a blast.”

“I have so many great memories here. Most of the time I ended up on the losing side of things during the regular season,” he said. “The fans, the playoff battles ... great memories. I just tried to take it all in tonight.”

Bryant said Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio were among his favorite places to play.

Portland pushed its lead to 35-20 in the first half, with Lillard and McCollum combining for 24 points. Gerald Henderson’s 15-foot jumper pushed the lead to 43-24.

The Lakers closed the gap to 53-46 after Lou William’s jumper and free throw. Williams hit a 3-pointer that got the Lakers within 59-52 at the end of the half, but McCollum answered with his own 3 and the Blazers led 62-52 at the break.

Portland extended the lead to 101-76, going on an 18-4 run to close out the fourth quarter. The Lakers closed within 103-88 after Russell’s 3-pointer and free throw and fans chanted “We want Kobe,” but Bryant was already done for the night.

A fan behind the Lakers’ bench held a sign that read “Thank You Kobe.” Bryant embraced both Lillard and McCollum after the game and left the court to a loud ovation.

It was the sixth time Lillard had 30 or more points against the Lakers.

Blazers shoot past Thunder

Lillard, McCollum lead 3-point barrage in comeback victory
Jan. 10, 2016 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - After hitting his third consecutive 3-pointer, Damian Lillard flapped his arms above his head and motioned to the crowd while screaming, “Come on, man! Let’s go!”

“I got some good looks at the rim and let them fly,” Lillard said.

The star guard scored 31 points, including five 3-pointers in the last 3:07, and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-110 on Sunday night.

Portland coach Terry Stotts said calling Lillard’s performance “big” would be an understatement.

“You don’t see that very often,” Stotts said.

C.J. McCollum added 22 points for Portland, which hit a season-high 19 3-pointers to snap a three-game losing streak. Lillard finished with eight 3s, which matched his career high.

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook nearly had his fourth triple-double of the season but fell short with 25 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds. Last season, Westbrook led the NBA with 11 triple-doubles.

Kevin Durant had 28 points for Oklahoma City and has scored 20 or more in 23 consecutive games.

With 3:19 remaining, Andre Roberson hit a buzzer-beating 3 to put Oklahoma City up 103-95. That started a 3-point shootout. Lillard hit three straight 3s, and Allen Crabbe drained another to cut the Thunder’s lead to 108-107 with two minutes left.

Lillard wasn’t done. He hit two more 3s to give Portland a three-point lead, and an offensive foul on Oklahoma City with a minute left brought fans to their feet. But it was Mason Plumlee’s block for the Blazers with 30.9 seconds left, Lillard said, that made all the difference.

“Changed the game completely,” Lillard said. “That was the game-winner right there.”

Lillard finished with 17 points in the final quarter. Durant went scoreless in the fourth.

“They played well in the fourth, and we didn’t,” Durant said. “All those made shots kind of broke our backs.”

The loss ended a four-game road win streak for the Thunder.

The Blazers and Thunder kept it close in a sloppy first quarter. Steven Adams slammed a one-handed dunk for Oklahoma City, and Maurice Harkless answered with a 3.

Portland led 52-46 at halftime. Westbrook had just two points heading into the break.

Lillard’s eight points in two minutes allowed the Blazers to open their lead to 65-55 in the third quarter. Quick points from the Thunder, including a 3-pointer and a free throw by Adams and a running jumper from Durant, trimmed Portland’s lead to two.

The Thunder rallied to take the lead, but McCollum’s 3 at the buzzer to end the third brought the Blazers to 85-80.

Blazers playoff history by season

NBA PLAYOFF HISTORY

FINALS
1992      Lost to Chicago, 4-2  
1990      Lost to Detroit, 4-1 
1977      Def. Philadelphia, 4-2

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS BY YEAR
2015      vs. Memphis
2014      Def. Houston, 4-2
               Lost to San Antonio, 4-1
2011      Lost to Dallas, 4-2
2010      Lost to Phoenix, 4-2
2009      Lost to Houston, 4-2
2003      Lost to Dallas, 4-3
2002      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-0
2001      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-0
2000      Def. Dallas, 3-1     
               Def. Utah, 4-1
               Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 4-3     
1999      Def. Phoenix, 3-0     
               Def. Utah, 4-2     
               Lost to San Antonio Spurs, 4-0
1998      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-1      
1997      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-1     
1996      Lost to Utah, 3-2
1995      Lost to Phoenix, 3-0     
1994      Lost to Houston, 3-1     
1993      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-0     
1992      Def. Los Angeles Lakers, 3-1     
               Def. Phoenix, 4-1     
               Def. Utah, 4-2      
               Lost to Chicago, 4-2     
1991      Def. Seattle, 3-2     
               Def. Utah, 4-1
               Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 4-2      
1990      Def. Dallas, 3-0
               Def. San Antonio, 4-3
               Def. Phoenix, 4-2
               Lost to Detroit, 4-1
1989      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-0
1988      Lost to Utah, 3-1
1987      Lost to Houston, 3-1      
1988      Lost to Utah, 3-1       
1987      Lost to Houston, 3-1     
1986      Lost to Denver, 3-1     
1985      Beat Dallas, 3-1      
               Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1
1984      Lost to Phoenix, 3-2
1983      Def. Seattle, 2-0
               Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1
1981      Lost to Kansas City Kings, 2-1
1980      Lost to Seattle, 2-1
1977      Def. Chicago, 2-1      
               Def. Denver, 4-2
               Def. Los Angeles Laker, 4-0
               Def. Philadelphia, 4-2

Team founded 1970-71 season

Blazers lose homecourt edge

Utah's 111-105 win in Portland finalizes the playoff push
April 11, 2015 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - Trevor Booker scored a career-high 36 points and the Utah Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers 111-105 on Saturday night at the Moda Center with both teams missing key players.

Portland’s hopes of home-court advantage in the playoffs slipped away. The Blazers won the Northwest Division, but the four teams with the best records in each conference get home court in the post season and the Blazers can’t catch the Los Angeles Clippers, who beat the Grizzlies 94-86 on Saturday night.

The Jazz led by as many as 15 points, but Portland kept it close throughout the second half. Damian Lillard hit a short jumper to pull the Blazers to 101-99, and Robin Lopez’s layup tied it at 101 with 2:33 to go.

Rodney Hood’s short jumper gave the Jazz back the lead, and Booker added a pair of free throws for a 105-101 Utah lead and the Blazers couldn’t catch up. Hood finished with 21 points.

Lillard led the Blazers with 28 points, and CJ McCollum had 26.

The Blazers did not have LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sore left foot. It was unclear when the All-Star forward was injured, but coach Terry Stotts said before the game that an MRI was negative.

Portland also was without Arron Afflalo, who has a right shoulder strain and might not be available until midway through the first round of the playoffs. Afflalo was hurt in the Blazers’ 116-105 loss at Golden State on Thursday night.

The Blazers started 7-foot-1 center Meyers Leonard in Aldridge’s place alongside fellow 7-footer Lopez.

The Jazz, already eliminated from the playoffs, rested regular starters Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors for the game. Guard Trey Burke did not make the trip to Portland because of a sore back.

Utah was coming off an 89-88 loss at home to Memphis on Friday night.

Booker started for the just the fourth time this season and had 19 points in the first quarter alone as the Jazz built a 32-19 lead. Booker’s previous season-high for points this season was 17.

McCollum scored 10-straight points, pulling the Blazers to 44-42. But the Jazz went on a 10-2 run to go up 54-44 and led 56-46 at the half.

McCollum’s basket and a pair of free throws pulled the Blazers even with Utah at 56, and they briefly pulled ahead 59-58 on a free throw from Lopez.

Leonard’s dunk gave the Blazers a 79-77 lead and McCollum pushed it to 86-81 with a long jumper. But the Jazz went on a 13-0 run, capped by Chris Johnson’s layup with 6:54 left, to go ahead 94-86.

Homecourt edge heads South

Chris Paul leads LAC past the Blazers in possible playoff preview
April 1, 2015 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - A night after suffering a disturbing loss at home, Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers showed off their playoff passion against their likely first-round opponent - Portland.

A third-quarter shove by Portland’s Chris Kaman spurred an intense rally, and the Clippers defeated the Trail Blazers 126-122 on Wednesday night at the Moda Center.

Portland’s four-game winning streak was snapped, and the Trail Blazers were denied a chance to clinch their first Northwest Division title since the 2008-09 season, when they shared it with Denver.

Paul finished with a season-high 41 points and added 17 assists.

It was late in the third quarter when Kaman pushed Paul after a scramble under the net. Paul chased after Kaman, but the refs separated the groups. Following a review, Kaman was handed a flagrant foul.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the play gave the Clippers a boost. Los Angeles, which had dropped a game at home to the Warriors the night before, went on to outscore the Blazers 45-30 the rest of the way.

“CP already had it going before that to be honest, but that just brought more energy into the game,” Rivers said. “When you’re lacking energy or just looking for anything, little plays like that can help you -- or they can do you in, too. You never know how that’s going to go. I was happy with how we responded to it.”

J.J. Redick added 25 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Clippers, who trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half and then held off a desperate Portland push in the final minutes.

Paul maintained the shove didn’t necessarily light a fire, but he went on to score 12 points in the final quarter.

“It gave me a chance to get to the free throw line and get a little bit of a rhythm,” he said. “I think it was just a gutsy win.”

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 29 points, while Damian Lillard had 18 points and 10 assists.

Redick’s 3-pointer put the Clippers ahead 100-98 with 6:66 left, the team’s first lead of the game.

Blake Griffin and Paul hit consecutive 3-pointers, and the Clippers went ahead 106-100. Another Paul 3-pointer made it 114-103 and appeared to seal it.

The Blazers chipped away, pulling within 122-119 on a pair of free throws from Aldridge with 19 seconds left. After Paul made free throws on the other end, C.J. McCollum hit a 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds left that closed Portland within 124-122.

Nicolas Batum fouled Paul, who made both shots, and Portland couldn’t get a clear shot off in the final seconds.

“Look, you hate losing games,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “You hate losing at home and you hate losing to a team that you might see in the playoffs. There’s a lot of things not to be happy about tonight.”

The Clippers (50-26) and the Blazers (48-26) have already secured a place in the playoffs; now they’re fighting for home-court advantage. Both teams, as well as San Antonio, are locked in a battle behind Golden State, Memphis and Houston for one of the top four spots. The Clippers have played two more games than the Blazers.

Home-court advantage in the playoffs goes to the teams with the best records. However, the division title is a tiebreaker if the two teams vying for the fourth spot finish with identical records.

Portland’s magic number to claim the Northwest Division going into the game was two, but the Blazers were helped by Oklahoma City’s 135-131 loss at to the Mavericks.

Portland jumped ahead 27-17 on Aldridge’s long jumper in the first quarter. He added another jumper at the buzzer to finish the quarter with 16 points and put the Blazers in front 33-26.

Lillard’s layup capped the first half for a 68-55 Portland lead at the break.

Kaman wouldn’t talk about the third-quarter incident, but he would talk about the game.

“They played last night, so give them credit for waking up there in the second half,” he said.

Portland maintained a double-digit margin until Paul’s step-back jumper and his toss to DeAndre Jordan for the dunk to close within 75-67. Paul added a 3-pointer to narrow it to 75-70, but Batum momentarily stopped the rally with a 3-pointer of his own.

Blazers rally for another big win

Portland overcomes a 15-point deficit to beat Oklahoma City, 115-112
Feb. 27, 2015 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - After the Portland Trail Blazers overcame Russell Westbrook’s third straight triple-double, Damian Lillard sensed his team was recapturing its form of earlier this season.

Oklahoma City can only hope it didn’t lose Westbrook along with the game.

Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge each scored 29 points, and Portland rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-112 on Friday night. Aldridge added 16 rebounds.

Westbrook, who fell and was hit in the face by the knee of onrushing teammate Andre Roberson in the final seconds, had 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. He became the first player to string together three triple-doubles since LeBron James in 2009.

Westbrook, who had a noticeable imprint on his right cheek, did not speak to reporters following the game and was taken to a Portland-area medical facility for further evaluation. There was no immediate word on his condition.

“I think it was one of those games where we turned back into ourselves and late in the game we found a way to get stops. We made plays, made shots and we stayed the course over kind of a rough game,” Lillard said.

The Blazers overcame a 15-point, third-quarter deficit and tied it on a tip shot by Aldridge with 4:33 to go.

Rookie Mitch McGary came off the bench for a season-high 20 points -- 12 in the third quarter alone -- for the Thunder.

Portland took the lead with 3:56 left on Arron Afflalo’s 3-pointer. Aldridge and Westbrook traded baskets down the stretch before Aldridge made a free throw to put Portland up 111-110 with 44 seconds to go.

Afflalo’s free throws made it 113-110, and Wesley Matthews’ attempt to intentionally foul Westbrook was ruled a shooting foul on a 3-pointer. Westbrook missed the first, and Lillard made free throws with 1.4 seconds left for the final margin.

The Blazers, who earlier in the season led the Western Conference, are 9-2 at the Moda Center this season in games in which they’ve trailed in the third quarter.

Westbrook was hit in the face in the scramble following his free throws.

“The guy has the heart of a champion,” coach Scott Brooks said. “He comes out every night. There are no excuses ever. He plays the game with everything he has.”

The Thunder were coming off a 117-113 overtime loss the night before in Phoenix, snapping their seven-game winning streak. Westbrook had 39 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, and rolled his ankle late in that game.

The Thunder were playing without Kevin Durant and Enes Kanter because of injuries. Brooks wasn’t certain how long Kanter will be out, saying he believed the injury occurred in the second half of the loss to the Suns.

Westbrook’s facial injury, if serious, would be a devastating blow.

Trailing the Thunder 59-47 at the break, the Blazers opened the second half with a 7-0 run to close within 59-54. Oklahoma City answered with a 10-0 run capped by Serge Ibaka’s dunk to go up 69-54 and led 89-78 going into the final quarter.

“We never believe that we’re out of it,” Aldridge said. “We understand that if we turn up our defense and we play at a different level that we’re capable, anything is possible.”

Blazers rebound against Spurs

Matthews shoots Portland past San Antonio, 111-95
Feb. 25, 2015 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - Wesley Matthews scored 31 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the slumping San Antonio Spurs 111-95 on Wednesday night for their first victory since the All-Star break.

Six players scored in double figures for Portland, which ended a two-game skid. Damian Lillard had 18 points and Nicolas Batum added 15.

Tim Duncan shot 9 of 12 and scored 20 points to lead San Antonio, which lost its fourth consecutive game. Danny Green had 17 points for the defending NBA champions.

Portland was 13 of 26 from 3-point range, with Matthews hitting a team-high four 3s.

The Blazers led 51-50 at halftime after the first two quarters were decidedly one-sided.

Portland dominated the first quarter, hitting 13 of 22 shots to take a 32-16 lead. Robin Lopez scored four points during a 10-0 run that helped the Blazers take control.

Portland led by as many as 19 early in the second quarter when momentum completely shifted in San Antonio’s direction. The Spurs, who made 13 of 20 shots during the second quarter, put together a 16-2 run late in the period and pulled even at 48 on Aron Baynes’ layup.

Portland re-established itself early in the third quarter, when Lillard scored six points during an 11-0 run that gave the Blazers a 67-54 lead. San Antonio responded with six quick points, but Portland quickly halted the Spurs’ momentum by scoring nine of the next 11 to take a 76-62 lead.

San Antonio, trailing 81-71 after three, threatened the Blazers again when Green and Tony Parker hit 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter. Portland, a loser in five of its previous nine games when leading after three quarters, regained control when Matthews hit two 3s during a 10-0 run.

Short-handed Cavs shoot down Blazers

Minus Lebron, Irving steps in and leads Cleveland past Portland
Jan. 28, 2015

CLEVELAND - Kyrie Irving put on a spectacular show and LeBron James watched it from a front-row seat.

Irving scored a career-high 55 points, breaking the arena record as James sat out with an injury to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their eighth straight win, 99-94 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

With James sidelined because of a sprained right wrist, Irving delivered a dazzling, tour-de-force performance.

One day before the NBA names its All-Star reserves, Irving put an exclamation point on his resume.

Irving, who scored 38 on Tuesday in a win at Detroit, made a team record 11 3-pointers and finished 10 of 10 from the free-throw line. He scored 24 of Cleveland’s final 28 points and 16 of the Cavs’ 20 in the fourth quarter. But it was his long jumper with 6.4 seconds left that shook Quicken Loans Arena.

Irving buried a 3-pointer to break a 94-94 tie, then grabbed a rebound off a missed 3-pointer by Portland’s Damian Lillard. And as many in the crowd chanted “M-V-P” and James danced near the bench, Irving dropped two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining to seal the win.

“It was a total team effort,” Irving said, trying to spread praise to his teammates.

James knew better. The four-time MVP politely declined to speak to reporters, saying the focus should be only on Irving.

“This is his night,” James said.

Irving, who missed his first seven shots, broke the previous arena scoring mark set by Allen Iverson on Jan. 6, 2001. His point total was also the highest in the league this season, bettering the 52 scored by Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Minnesota’s Mo Williams.

Irving was at his best at the end of quarters, scoring Cleveland’s last 11 points in the first, the final eight in the second and third and 10 of the Cavs’ last 12.

His final shot was magnificent in so many ways. Dribbling the ball on the right side as the clock ticked down, Irving froze 6-foot-8 forward Nicolas Batum with a move toward the basket before stopping and sinking his 11th 3-pointer. After the Trail Blazers called timeout, and as 20,562 fans screamed, James ran onto the floor and greeted his teammate with a chest bump.

Batum felt he had done all he could to stop Irving.

“He’s so quick you don’t want to get too close,” Batum said. “You have to control the drive. I tried to contest the shot. I was on him, but he made a big shot.”

James sprained his wrist Tuesday, when he fell hard after trying to block a shot against Detroit. James reached out with both arms to brace his fall and said afterward he was scared after breaking his left wrist on a similar play while in high school. The team said an MRI revealed the sprain and that James is doubtful for Friday’s game against Sacramento.

Until he’s ready, Irving can carry the load.

LaMarcus Aldridge, playing his second game since deciding to delay thumb surgery until after the season, scored 38 to lead the Trail Blazers, who have dropped six of seven. Lillard added 14 on just 4 of 19 shooting and was unable to do much defending Irving.

“He played great,” Lillard said. “I’ve seen him get on streaks before, but usually they’re mid-range pull-ups and nice layups, not 11 3s. He’s in a good rhythm.”

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