Cleveland looks to win five straight on the road for the first time in nearly 10 years Wednesday when it meets a Portland team that has one of the best home records in the NBA.
The Cavs (24-19) have won 10 of 12 overall this month and started a three-game trip with their fourth straight road victory, 98-95 over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. Cleveland, which concludes its trip Thursday against lowly Seattle, hasn’t won five in a row on the road since March 17-April 1, 1998.
The Cavaliers blew a nine-point halftime lead Sunday but rallied behind LeBron James, who scored 14 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter. James said he benefited from a 12-minute delay late in the first quarter after a leak in the Staples Center roof stopped play.
“It helped me for the second half,” said James, who was 16-of-32 from the field. “I was able to get a long rest. I didn’t come out in the second half because of that.”
James was coming off a 36-point performance in a 110-108 loss to Phoenix on Friday. He’s averaging an NBA-best 29.9 points this season - 32.4 in January - and has helped pace Cleveland’s offensive outburst this month. The Cavs entered January averaging 95.5 points but are putting up 101.9 per game this month.
Cleveland heads to Portland without one of its top reserves available after forward Anderson Varejao sprained his left ankle in Sunday’s win. Varejao, who is averaging 7.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in 22 games this season, will miss up to four weeks.
Cleveland is already playing without starting guard Sasha Pavlovic, who is out for at least six weeks with a left mid-foot sprain.
The Cavaliers have lost their last two visits to Portland, where the Blazers are 18-4 this season. Portland (26-18), in the midst of a season high-tying six-game homestand, bounced back from an 89-79 loss to Houston on Friday with a 94-93 victory over Atlanta on Sunday.
Portland improved to 4-5 in its last nine games after winning 17 of 18 from Dec. 3-Jan. 9. The Blazers averaged 102.9 points during the 17-1 run, but are scoring just 95.0 per game since.
Although the Blazers failed to break 100 points Sunday, they did shoot 50 percent from the field and rallied from a 52-37 halftime deficit. Brandon Roy scored 24 points to lead five players in double figures, and hit the game-winning free throw with 2.3 seconds remaining.
“I was so disappointed in the first half in how we were playing. These fans fill this building up to see us play hard,” Roy said. “I was disappointed in our effort and I think in the second half we did a better job of giving them a good show.”
This is the first meeting between Cleveland and Portland this season. They split two games last season, with each club winning at home.
The Blazers defeated the Cavs 94-76 in Portland on Jan. 17, 2007 for their ninth win in the last 11 home games against Cleveland.