Thursday, January 17, 2013 1:30 am
Irving scores 31 to lead Cavs over Trail Blazers
By JOEL FOWLKSAssociated Press
Nicolas Batum had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Blazers, who erased a 19-point second-quarter deficit and briefly took the lead. Wesley Matthews added 17 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 15.
Irving won his first matchup with Portland rookie point guard Damian Lillard, who finished with 13 points. Lillard entered the fourth quarter with only three points on 0-for-3 shooting, but tied the score at 75 with a 3-pointer and then gave the Blazers an 86-85 lead by hitting a 20-footer with 2:07 left.
Irving took over from there, though. He made a pull-up jumper, a turnaround bank shot and a couple of free throws as Portland wilted.
Tyler Zeller added 11 points and nine rebounds for Cleveland, which was playing the fourth game of a five-game Western Conference road trip. The Cavs had lost eight of 10 overall, including 124-118 to Sacramento on Monday.
Portland has lost four straight by a total of 19 points. The Blazers started slow and spent long stretches trying to dig out of holes, possibly the consequence of going overtime with the Nuggets on Tuesday night in a 115-111 loss in Denver's high altitude.
Irving led the way in the first quarter, shooting 6 of 9 while Cleveland led by as many as 11. The Cavs' lead hit its apex at 51-32 in the second quarter after Irving fed Thompson for a dunk. Portland had 12 turnovers and shot 34 percent in the first half and trailed by 17 at halftime.
Portland came out of the break more composed and made a run, with back-to-back jumpers from Aldridge, a 3-pointer from Matthews and a ferocious dunk from J.J. Hickson to cut the lead to 55-46. Portland managed to hang around and entered the final quarter still trailing by nine. The Blazers outscored Cleveland by four in the final quarter.
NOTES: Cleveland has won 12 of the last 18 games in the series but Portland had won the past four, including 118-117 in two overtimes on Dec. 1. Irving missed that game with a broken finger. ... Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who grew up in Portland, was in attendance.