The Cavaliers put up their coldest shooting performance of the season in Utah on Tuesday, 31-85 (36.5 percent). After a snow-filled (and late) overnight to Portland, their first half wasn’t much better, 13-42 (29.3 percent). The Cavs managed to score just 6 points over a 10-minute span as the second unit rotated through at the end of the first quarter and trailing by as many as 15. They finished the game with a new season low shooting percentage, 34.1 percent (28-82). Cavaliers lost back-to-back, 102-86.
The Cavaliers slow start, while uncharacteristic of the Eastern Conference’s top ranked team is at least understandable given this is the Cavaliers fourth game in six days, the second game of a back-to-back on the road (and if Channing Frye’s Snapchat story is any indication, the Cavaliers took until 3 a.m. PT to each the City of Roses due to the snow storms in the Pacific Northwest).
One player that wasn’t cold in the first half? Portland’s Allen Crabbe, who had 18 points in 14 minutes off the bench, 6-7 from the field, he finished the game with 24 points. The fourth-year guard continues to be a threat off the bench for the Blazers, averaging 10.7 points per game on the season.
In the second half, it was more of the same for the Cavaliers who were outscored in each of the four quarters. Lue appeared to give earlier minutes to backup point guard Kay Felder, perhaps to get rest for Irving, and gave significant minutes to Shumpert and Korver off the bench.
The road trip continued to be a struggle for the newest Cavalier, Kyle Korver, a minus-13 in 24 minutes (with a decent amount of garbage time in the fourth quarter), 1-5 from the field (0-3 3P FGs). Again, understandable given the travel and lack of practices. Irving didn’t finish much better, 11 points, 4-16, three rebounds, one assist, and 3 turnovers.
For the Blazers, McCollum caught fire after his own cold start, 21 second half points (8-10). He had 27 points on the night with four rebounds and two assists. Lillard finished with 14 points.
As for positive outlooks? LeBron James, while limited in his 31 minutes, continued a somewhat efficient streak. In the previous six games, James has averaged 30.3 points while shooting a 54.8 field goal percentage, and 40 percent from behind the arc. Against Portland, he had 20 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists, 2-5 on three-pointers. Love finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds.
At 28-10 it finally appears that 73-9 is no longer in the picture for the Cavaliers. They hold three-game lead for first place in the East. Next up for the Cavaliers, a day of rest before their fourth game on the road in Sacramento on Friday (10:30 PM ET). They will wrap up their road trip in Golden State on Martin Luther King Day. Let’s hope it isn’t a repeat of last year’s MLK matchup.