Jan 15, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots the ball over Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson (13) at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Instant Reaction: Portland Trail Blazers 108, Cleveland Cavaliers 96


Final Outcome

Despite pounding them in my recap for a victory the night prior, I have to applaud Cleveland’s (14-25, 4-17 away) efforts against the Portland Trail Blazers (29-9, 16-4 home) on Wednesday night. Even though the end result was a 108-96 loss, the Cavaliers fought tough through and through, keeping even with Portland despite falling to the Trail Blazers by a 108-96 mark. A 12-0 run by Portland at the Moda Center on Wednesday in the fourth quarter officially ended Cleveland’s run at dethroning the team with the third-best record in the NBA. This came directly after a road win against the Los Angeles Lakers at the STAPLES Center, so the way the Wine & Gold came out against the Trail Blazers following an unenthusiastic win against the lowly Lakers rose above my expectations.

Key Play to the Game

LaMarcus Aldridge rose to the occasion on Wednesday night, helping his team close out the Cavs by igniting the 12-0 run Portland went on to end Cleveland’s hopes of upsetting the Trail Blazers. Aldridge had an extremely impressive night, hitting 12 of 26 from the field and logging 32 points and 18 rebounds. It was the type of night that has you proclaiming Aldrige as a fringe MVP candidate. Most importantly, he hit 7 of 7 attempts from the free throw line, which started Portland’s run against the Cavaliers to finish off the Wine & Gold. Was Damian Lillard impressive? Yes, but the second half that Aldridge logged and the fact that he sparked Portland’s hard-fought victory has me handing the “Key Play to the Game” over to the dazzling finish that Aldridge generated.

Wine & Gold MVP

Although he didn’t have as impressive a night from long range as he did against the Lakers, small forward Luol Deng helped the Cavaliers stay in the game early against Portland, and allowed Cleveland to stay close throughout. Overall, he finished 10 of 20 from the field and logged 25 points and six rebounds. Kyrie Irving logged a team-high 40 minutes, but Deng was right behind Uncle Drew with a season-high with the Cavaliers 39 minutes. In back-to-back nights, Deng has Cleveland fans looking very optimistic past the road trip. We knew that Portland was going to be the toughest matchup of the excursion out West, but Deng was the early force and glue that held the team together for most of the game. Yeah, the Cavaliers fought too hard to be blown out at the end of the game, but, although I bashed moral victories a night prior, you have to love what Deng has brought to this team thus far.

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The Cavaliers will end their five-game trip out West against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. on Friday.

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