James leads Cavaliers past Trail Blazers in OT
James had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Cavaliers to a 97-92 overtime victory against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night. Cleveland committed only two turnovers, setting a franchise record and matching the mark set by Milwaukee against Indiana on April 1, 2006.
“That’s good basketball. We did a good job protecting the ball,” James said. “It’s all about the team.”
Cleveland, won its seventh straight and 10th in the last 11, nearly broke the record, but Mo Williams’ pass while trying to run out the clock hit the backboard and was picked up by the Trail Blazers.
The Cavaliers are 31-1 at home and have a 4 1/2 -game lead over Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
James, who had his seventh triple-double this season, scored six points in the overtime period. His driving basket in the lane after the Cavaliers won the jumpball put Cleveland ahead for good. Zydrunas Ilgauskas added a free throw and a basket, pushing the lead to 91-86 lead with 3:15 left. James hit two more baskets as the Cavaliers outscored Portland 11-6 in the extra session.Ilgauskas finished with 21 points.
Cleveland, which made just 4-of-21 shots in the first period, couldn’t hold an eight-point lead in the fourth.
“It was an ugly ballgame, but you’ve got to win ugly sometimes,” said Cleveland coach Mike Brown, who recorded his 200th career victory.
James scored twice late in regulation to give Cleveland an 86-82 lead, but Brandon Roy, who led Portland with 24 points, hit four free throws in the final 34 seconds—the last two coming with 3.4 seconds left—to tie the game.
Roy faked James into the air and his foot barely straddled the 3-point line when contact was made, sending Roy to the line for the tying free throws.
“He wasn’t going to let me make a walkoff 3 on him,” Roy said of James. “As soon as I did my last move, I went for the pump and he went for it. It’s almost like he knew I was going to shoot a 3 and he was timing it. I got up in the air, and he did a somewhat good job of going straight up. So I had to lean into him a little bit. That’s when my toe went over the line.”
James missed a running 12-footer and the game went into overtime. Ever the perfectionist, James found fault with himself for missing the shot.
“I make those shots all the time,” he said. “It was just a little short.”
LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, Portland’s starting forwards, missed the game because of injuries. Both players were injured in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s 95-85 win over Indiana. Aldridge, the Trail Blazers’ second-leading scorer, suffered a concussion while Batum, Portland’s best perimeter defender, sprained his left ankle.
“You’ve gotta make plays down the stretch and we didn’t do it,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “They did. They made buckets when they needed to, they got stops when they needed to.”
Greg Oden, who played one season at Ohio State, had seven points and nine rebounds in 12 minutes for Portland. He was playing his second game after missing 15 games with a bone chip in his left knee.