Roy leads Blazers rally, but James is too much
PORTLAND — All of a sudden it was there. The confidence, the belief, the will.
And just when the Portland Trail Blazers woke up and came to life, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James temporarily quieted down.
But not even a spirited second-half rally led by Brandon Roy that saw Portland come back from a 15-point halftime deficit to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter could save the Blazers on Sunday at the Rose Garden.
In the end, the king-like James was simply too much for Portland.
The Blazers fell to Cleveland, 106-94, before a sold-out crowd of 20,614.
“They certainly came out as the aggressors,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “LeBron was just unbelievable.”
Roy poured in a team-high 34 points to lead the Blazers (23-16), while LaMarcus Aldridge recorded 18 points and 13 rebounds. Andre Miller added 14 points and eight assists, and Martell Webster contributed 12 points and six rebounds.
Both Roy and McMillan credited Portland’s resolve, while Roy said the Blazers’ ability to play loose and at ease in the second half keyed his team’s rally.
Roy scored 19 points after halftime, and he recorded 10 consecutive points for Portland during a stretch of 2 minutes, 24 seconds midway through the third quarter.
“I was being aggressive, and I told the guys we’ve got to play a little more free,” Roy said. “I felt like in the first half we were playing too controlled. And playing that style of basketball, we can’t compete against them.”
Roy and James traded big shots and bigger plays throughout the contest.
But the Cleveland (29-10) forward was unguardable in the first half, scoring 31 points on 10-of-12 shooting.
“You normally don’t make adjustments in the first quarter,” McMillan said. “His 20 points came so fast.”
James’ early golden touch carried the Cavaliers to a 64-59 halftime advantage. And he finished with a game-high 41 points on 13-of-19 shooting, adding 10 rebounds and eight assists.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” James said. “You have to be that way on the road, in order to get road wins. And that was just my whole mindset coming into the game.”
One game removed from knocking off the Los Angeles Lakers, McMillan said his team entered Sunday’s contest riding a wave of confidence. However, any high Portland was feeling was quickly erased by James.
The Cavaliers opened up a 14-6 lead by pushing the tempo and using a fast-break offense to exploit a Blazers defense that was initially slow to react. Thirteen of Cleveland’s first 14 points came via the hands of either James or Mo Williams, who finished with 16 points.
Portland rallied to pull within 26-25.
But James continued to roar, and he finished the first quarter with 20 points on 8-of-8 shooting.
After watching James’ first-half outburst, Roy emerged from halftime a new man.
He sank seemingly unmakeable shots by blending a soft touch with perfect body control. And he attempted to once again lift up the Blazers and carry his team on his shoulders.
James said Roy is one of the top shooting guards in the league, comparable to Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant and Miami’s Dwayne Wade.
“He’s great. He’s an all-star, and he’s shaping into a superstar,” James said. “They’ve got a great player in Brandon.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Webster pulled Portland within 76-72 with 3 minutes, 20 seconds left in the period. And the contest was tied at 89 with 6:17 to go after Andre Miller made two free throws.
But after climbing back by playing loose and free, the Blazers again tightened up down the stretch, Roy said.
“They’re just physically too big and strong for us to play a half-court game with,” Roy said. “Once we came back, we started to slow it down and play their style. It was too difficult.”
Roy recorded his 5,000th career point as a Blazer after sinking a layup with 15.9 points left in the first quarter. Roy, who has played 247 games with Portland, is the third-fastest player in Blazer history to reach the mark. … Blazers guard Steve Blake entered the game at the start of the second quarter. Blake had missed Portland’s last four contests while recovering from pneumonia. … James did not miss a basket until 11:25 into the second period, when he clanked a free throw. … Cleveland’s 64 first-half points were the most allowed by the Blazers in any half this season.
Best Blazer: Brandon Roy scored a team-high 34 points, including 19 during the second half.
Big numbers: Cleveland’s LeBron James poured in a game-high 41 points and scored 20 on 8-of-8 shooting during the first quarter.
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