Blazers leave Cavaliers for dead early
Portland jumps in front 33-4, cruises to 111-70 victory
Before Thursday's game against Cleveland, Nate McMillan warned his players of complacency.
'You don't play a team's record or what they've done in the past,' the Trail Blazer coach said. 'Play this game the right way. Don't assume you can take the night off or try and go for a career high. You have to outwork them and out-execute them. Your mindset can't change for the opponent you're playing.'
Evidently, McMillan's warning paid off.
The Blazers should have been charged with assault and battery after their 111-70 shellacking of the Cadavaliers, er, Cavaliers at the Rose Garden.
'From the opening tip, I knew it was going to be pretty good,' Portland forward Gerald Wallace said.
The Cavaliers (13-54) - with their best player, Antawn Jamison, out for the season with a broken finger - were playing the second of back-to-back games after a rare win at Sacramento Wednesday night. The Blazers (39-29) are in a torrid race for playoff positioning in the Western Conference.
The result was Portland's most one-sided victory since a 42-point drubbing of Chicago in November 2008.
'A good, old-fashioned butt-whipping,' was the way Cleveland coach Byron Scott described it.
'We needed one like this,' McMillan said. 'We haven't had a lot of games where, from start to finish, we stayed focused.
'We weren't trying to embarrass Cleveland. We were just trying to work on our game and get better. We know we're going to need to get better.'
That goes for Cleveland, too.
The Cavaliers own the NBA's worst record, but to call them an NBA team on this night would be a stretch. D-League, maybe.
'That was probably the easiest win I've ever had,' said Portland's Brandon Roy, who was needed for only 14 minutes. 'I don't think I've ever been up that much in the first half of a game. Good thing for them they were making free throws.'
Roy's right on that one. Scott is obviously spending too much practice time on foul shots and not enough on anything else. The Cavs made their first 14 attempts, were 16 for 17 in the first half and 25 for 30 in the game.
Other than that, it was sheer ugliness. Cleveland shot .356 from the field - a season-low for a Portland opponent - committed 19 turnovers, was manhandled 45-29 on the boards, lost the points-in-the-paint battle 62-30 and dished out only six assists. The latter figure matched an all-time low for a Blazer foe. The Cavs had only one assist in the first half.
'I've never seen that before - never in my life,' Scott lamented.
The outcome left players from both sides shaking their heads.
'We were doomed from the first quarter,' said guard Baron Davis, who made his first appearance as a Cavalier. 'They saw blood and they just never stopped.'
The Blazers might not have seen blood, but they certainly smelled it not long after the opening tip.
'I was in a few of these in Sacramento,' said Wallace, who spent his first three NBA seasons as a young reserve with a loaded Kings team. 'I always looked forward to those type of blowouts, because they gave me an opportunity to get in.'
Was he on the other side of it during his 6 1/2 years with Charlotte, almost always an also-ran?
'Don't think so,' Wallace said after giving it some thought. 'We never got bombed like that from start to finish.'
Nine minutes in, Portland led by an almost inconceivable 33-4 score. It was 37-12 after one quarter. Soon the margin was 43-12 and 55-19 early in the second period before things leveled out a little, the Blazers going into intermission with a 64-34 advantage.
The first-quarter numbers were staggering. The Blazers shot .696 (16 for 23) while Cleveland was 2 for 14 - and that included Davis' 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds left. Portland held a humongous edge in rebounds (15-3) and points in the paint (22-0).
'Our team is just so soft mentally, it's unbelievable,' Scott said. 'Winning that game last night, we forget (the Kings) had 15 or 16 wins. (The Blazers) are fighting for something, and they came out and played like it. We were on our heels the whole night.'
Andre Miller echoed Scott's sentiments.
'Nothing against their team, but we're playing for something a little bigger,' said the Portland point guard, who had six points and six assists in a 26-minute stint. 'We needed this game.'
McMillan was able to use all 12 Blazers who suited. Eleven of them scored points, led by LaMarcus Aldridge with 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting to go with 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.
'The guys were professional with their approach,' he said.
'It was good for us,' Roy said, 'because we have a lot of battles coming up.'
Starting Saturday night at home against Philadelphia.
NOTES - Portland moved into a virtual tie with New Orleans (40-30) for sixth place in the West, two games behind Denver (41-27). ... The Blazers shot .542 from the field and .407 (11 for 27) from 3-point range. ... It was the 22nd game this season in which Aldridge has had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. ... Wallace had a big game with 17 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocked shots in 33 minutes. Wesley Matthews (14 points, seven rebounds, four assists), Nicolas Batum (14 points, five assists, four rebounds) and Rudy Fernandez (13 points, five assists, four rebounds, three assists) filled up the boxscore in a good way, too. ... Matthews has had at least one trey in each of the last 15 games. ... McMillan still had Wallace, Matthews and Batum in the game with four minutes left and a 34-point lead. ... The win secured Portland's first series sweep of the Cavs since 2002-03. ... Before the game, Scott had high praise for Aldridge. 'He's been great all season long,' Scott said. 'It's a shame that young man didn't get his just do as an All-Star, because it was really deserved. He's a tough cover for everybody who guards him."