CLEVELAND (AP) – Cleveland coach David Blatt said before Tuesday’s game that his team needed to win, not just make a statement.
The Cavaliers did both.
LeBron James had 33 points and 10 rebounds, and Cleveland rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 105-100, snapping a three-game losing streak.
James, who didn’t play Saturday in Miami to rest, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer and a three-point play down the stretch. He shot 14 for 24 from the field.
The Cavaliers were outplayed in the rocky first half until the final minutes of the second quarter when they cut the deficit to 56-47.
“You don’t get frustrated,” James said. “You see the things you did well. You see the things you didn’t do so well. Obviously, when you’re down 18 you don’t do too many things that well.”
Kevin Love added 18 points and a second-half lineup adjustment by Blatt sparked the comeback. And once the tone of the game switched, the Cavaliers took advantage.
“Momentum is a huge thing in sports,” James said. “If you’re able to get a little momentum and able to ride that wave, you can do some special things. We caught a good wave tonight.”
Damian Lillard scored 33 points to lead Portland, which blew a late lead Monday in Milwaukee and appeared to run out of gas as Cleveland came back in the second half.
C.J. McCollum added 24 points for the Trail Blazers.
Love, who missed the morning shoot-around because he was ill, was 8 of 10 from the foul line. Matthew Dellavedova added 17 points.
Blatt benched center Timofey Mozgov at halftime and went with a lineup of James, Love and guards Dellavedova, J.R. Smith and Jared Cunningham, a combination that got Cleveland back in the game.
Portland coach Terry Stotts got right to the point in assessing the defeat.
“I don’t know what you learn from nights like this expect it stinks to lose close games, he said. “It stinks to lose close games.”
The Cavaliers took the lead briefly late in the third quarter and went ahead for good on Cunningham’s fast-break basket with 1:58 remaining in the period.
Cleveland extended the lead to 11 points in the fourth, but a four-point play, sparked when Dellavedova was called for a flagrant foul for throwing Mason Plumlee to the floor while battling for a rebound, cut the lead to 93-90.
James and Dellavedova hit 3-pointers and Cleveland hung on.
Lillard was 14 of 27 from the field with four 3-pointers.
The Trail Blazers are in the midst of playing four games in six days, including back-to-back contests at the front and back end. “Over the years, we’ve been a good back-to-back team, so that’s not much of an issue,” Stotts said. “It’s more the four-in-five days or six-in-nine days that really take their toll on an NBA team.”
James said early in the season he wanted to play in all 82 regular-season games. He sat out Saturday against his former team after playing 44 minutes Friday in an overtime loss at New Orleans.
“It was more about the health,” James said. “I want to be healthy enough where I can play all 82. I’ve always predicated my game off of how I treat my body and protect my body. A lot of people think I just go out and I just play. So, it was a whole mindset of saying I want to be available for 82 games if needed and to this point, I have been.”
Trail Blazers: Portland made 8 of its first 10 shots, was 11 of 20 in the first quarter and finished the half 23 of 39. Portland shot 40 of 79 for the game. … McCollum, a Canton native, was 10 of 19 from the field.
Cavaliers: James loosened the sleeves of the team’s black T-shirt jerseys early in the game. He ripped the sleeves the first time the Cavaliers wore the jerseys this season because they were too tight. …. Mozgov was scoreless with no rebounds in seven minutes. … Mo Williams, who had an MRI on his left knee Monday, entered the game in the first quarter. He scored 13 points in 21 minutes.
Trail Blazers: At Phoenix on Friday.
Cavaliers: At Orlando on Friday.