The Trail Blazers put the finishing touches on a 5-1 road trip Wednesday night in Cleveland with a very professional effort.
Portland posted a 141-105 win that featured contributions from up and down the lineup and a solid effort against a team that lost in overtime the previous night to Phoenix.
These games have not always been easy for the Blazers. Often, on the final game of a long road trip and players thinking about finally getting home, even tanking teams have become a problem.
But Portland would just not let that happen. The Blazer bench supported the starters and Damian Lillard put together a solid performance at both ends of the court that led the way.
The Portland guard had 32 points and nine assists in just 31:19.
“The feeling around our team is just much better,” Lillard said. “Two games ago, behind the scenes we were like fighting to get better. We were trying to find our way out and trying to figure out ways to just be better and win games.
“I think we’re kind of having a breakthrough moment. I think we had our downs, we had our low point, and we stuck with it and you know, I think we just made our way back around.
“Things started to come back in our favor and we are doing all the things that give us a chance for that to happen, especially defensively.
“Our communication, our presence on the ball. The activity. We've been rebounding better. We've just been much better on that end of the floor and I think it's just really taken the pressure off and it's allowed us to play more in space, in transition, more often.”
Portland got 70 of its 141 points from its bench, with double-figure point contributions from Enes Kanter, Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons.
The Blazers absolutely took over the game in the second half, outscoring the Cavaliers 74-48 while shooting 60.4 percent.
And it really would have been easy to overlook Cleveland. Ahead is a Friday night matchup – with fans in Moda Center for the first time this season – against the Los Angeles Lakers.
On the line against the Lakers is the playoff tiebreaker, a spot outside the play-in, at least temporarily, and just the overall fun of beating the defending champions.
“It's appropriate, almost, that our first game with fans is going to be against the Lakers,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “I can't think of anything better.”