Cleveland Looks to Make it Four in a Row at Home Against Portland
James and the Cavaliers look for a fourth consecutive victory Wednesday when they host the Portland Trail Blazers at Quicken Loans Arena.
Oddsmakers have made Cleveland -11.5 point favorites (NBA Odds) for tonights game, the over/under has been set at
187.5 (View NBA Sports Books)
The 21-year-old James scored 29 points in Cleveland’s 102-96 win Monday at New York, but was slow to find an offensive rhythm. Damon Jones compensated for James’ slow start by scoring 24 first-half points en route to a season-high 29, more than doubling his season output from his first six games for the Cavaliers (5-2).
“LeBron is the face of this franchise,” said Jones, who went 7 of 10 from 3-point range in the win after going 7 of 19 his first six games. “The other guys just come out and play their role.
“We don’t care who scores or who rebounds. At the end of the day, all we want to do is win basketball games.”
James scored 19 second-half points and also had two key fourth-quarter assists as the Cavaliers turned back a late charge by the Knicks.
“Damon was very big,” James said. “He was able to mix in a few jumpers and even got to the hole. He kept them off balance. When D. Jones gets it going, he’s probably one of the best shooters in the NBA.”
James has averaged 28.7 points and 7.7 assists while shooting 51.0 percent (25-for-49) during Cleveland’s winning streak, while the team has averaged 103.0 points and made 23 3-pointers.
In six games against the Blazers, James has averaged 24.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists while recording a triple-double and four double-doubles.
Portland (4-4) opened a four-game road trip Tuesday with a 101-89 loss at Minnesota. The Trail Blazers – severely short-handed without the injured Darius Miles, rookie Brandon Roy, Joel Pryzbilla and Raef LaFrentz – missed their first nine shots and were unable to overcome a 30-11 first-quarter deficit.
“You can’t expect a miracle down the stretch,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “The way we’ve started games lately, that’s what we’ve needed.”
Zach Randolph continued his strong early season play with 26 points and nine rebounds, barely missing his sixth double-double. The power forward is averaging 27.1 points, a stark improvement from last season when he averaged 19.1 points through his first eight games.
Despite his impressive individual numbers, the slow starts by his team are beginning to take a toll as Portland has been outscored 92-37 in the first quarters of its last three games.
“We keep putting ourselves in too deep of a hole,” Randolph said. “I don’t know if it’s lack of focus or what it is. But it’s not fun.”
Miles underwent season-ending microfracture surgery Tuesday on his right knee, while Roy has missed three of the last four games due to a heel injury. The sixth overall pick in the draft, Roy has played less than 21 minutes in Portland’s last five games.
The home team won each game last season, and Cleveland has won three straight at home over Portland since a 114-95 defeat Feb. 2, 2003.
James had 27 points, nine rebounds and six steals in Cleveland’s 99-84 win March 17 in the most recent meeting, while Randolph had 17 points.
By: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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