Cavs fight back from 18 down to beat Blazers

CLEVELAND (United States) • While searching for a spark to turn around a game and end a losing streak, the Cleveland Cavaliers went to an unconventional line-up they had never even practised.

It was exactly what they needed.

LeBron James scored 33 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and the Cavaliers rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 105-100 in a National Basketball Association game on Tuesday.

James added 10 rebounds and three assists while forward Kevin Love scored 18 points and guard Matthew Dellavedova had 17 for the Cavaliers, who ended their three-game slide.

James, who had missed the Cavs' defeat to Miami on Saturday, excelled in the fourth quarter with a performance that hauled the Cavaliers into a winning position.

The superstar drained a crucial three-pointer to put the Cavs 96-90 ahead with 2min53sec left on the clock before forcing Mason Plumlee to foul out at the other end.

Cavaliers coach David Blatt juggled his line-up to begin the third quarter, pulling ineffective centre Timofey Mozgov and replacing him with guard Jared Cunningham. Love shifted to centre and James moved to power forward. The results were evident immediately.

Portland turned the ball over on five of their first eight possessions of the quarter and ended the third with more turnovers (nine) than they had in the entire first half (eight).

"I don't think we (practised) even once with that line-up," Cavs guard J.R. Smith said. "We've got one big in and LeBron knows every position anyway. That helps us out."

Portland guard Damian Lillard scored 33 points and guard C.J. McCollum had 24, but the Blazers lost for the second time in as many nights in part because of their flurry of turnovers in the second half.

"The turnovers were definitely a problem," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "(The Cavs) got into us, no question. Some of the turnovers were self-imposed, and some were because of their defence. That gave them a lot of momentum and just kind of took away a little bit of what we had going."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2015, with the headline 'Cavs fight back from 18 down to beat Blazers'. Print Edition | Subscribe