Trail Blazers vs Cavaliers Thursday, 03/17/11 AT 07:00PM

Brooms Up: Portland Looks To Sweep Cavs

  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 5.0

    With less than one-fifth of the season left, the Portland Trail Blazers continue to battle for a higher seed. Currently, they are in a virtual with the New Orleans Hornets for the sixth spot in the Western Conference, but the Trail Blazers (38-29) look to break that up when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers (12-53) on Thursday night at the Rose Garden. Tipoff is schedule for 7 PM.

    Projected to start for the Trail Blazers are Nicolas Batum, Gerald Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Andre Miller.

    Portland heads into the Cleveland matchup with a running start after notching an impressive 104-101 victory against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

    Aldridge led the way for the Trail Blazers with 30 points and eight rebounds, while Matthews tallied 18 points on 4-for-4 shooting from three-point range. Brandon Roy came off the bench and posted 21 points in 28 minutes and Rudy Fernandez added 12 points as a reserve. In his first start as a Trail Blazer, Wallace recorded eight points and five boards.

    Portland cleaned the glass and converted Maverick miscues, outrebounding Dallas 15-6 on the offensive boards - earning the Trail Blazers 18 more shots than the opposition - and converting 15 turnovers into 22 points. Not only that, but Portland also muscled its way to a 48-36 advantage in the paint en route to the win.

    Cleveland, on the other hand, has dropped four consecutive games - all by at least 10 points - and six of its last seven, including a 95-75 rout handed out by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.

    Daniel Gibson was the high-point man with 13 points off the bench and Samardo Samuels put up 10 points to go along with 10 boards, but no other player finished in double figures.

    The Cavaliers shot just 33.8 percent on the night, which, through three quarters of play, was only 29.7 percent, as Cleveland was outscored in the paint (40-26) and in transition (17-9). Led by J.J. Hickson's 15 boards, however, the Cavaliers outrebounded Oklahoma City 54-44, including an 18-8 margin on the offensive glass.

    On Thursday night, Portland and Cleveland will meet up for the second and final time of the season. The Trail Blazers sent the Cavaliers to an NBA single-season record 24th straight loss on Feb. 5, when Portland held on for a 111-105 victory at Quicken Loans Arena, marking the first time in 13 tries the Trail Blazers exceeded the century mark.

    Things were knotted up at 94 before Portland strung together nine straight points, which soon became an 11-1 run with four minutes remaining. Although that lead was trimmed down to two later on, the Trail Blazers forced two late turnovers by Ramon Sessions to seal the win.

    Matthews and Batum combined for a 10-for-13 mark from three-point range - each canning five - and finished with 31 and 21 points, respectively. Aldridge contributed with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Fernandez added 17 points off the bench and Miller finished with seven points and a game-high 13 assists.

    Antawn Jamison paced the Cavaliers with 17 points, while Sessions and Jamario Moon registered 15 and 14 points, respectively.

    Overall, Cleveland has taken 11 of the last 14 matchups, including three straight wins at the Rose Garden.

    Last year, Roy averaged nearly 29 points per game, while Aldridge tallied 20 points and 7.5 boards, but the Cavaliers shot better than 52 percent from the field to sweep the series.

    Out for Portland are Greg Oden and Elliot Williams, who are sidelined with knee injuries. Thursday's contest can be heard on 95.5 FM The Game with Brain Wheeler and Antonio Harvey, while Mike Barrett and Mike Rice will have the call on Comcast SportsNet.

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