Portland vs. Cleveland: How Nicolas Batum, Blazers Pulled out Much-Needed Win
The Blazers (7-10) pulled out a much-needed victory after having lost their first four games of the current seven-game trip.
After Nicolas Batum's near game-winning shot was called after the buzzer in the first overtime, Batum came up big once again with a go-ahead three-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining to help Portland break its skid.
Here are the grades, analysis and breakdown of the Blazers' victory.
Player of the Game
Nicolas Batum: 22 points, seven rebounds, two steals, two blocks, 7-15 FG
The 23-year-old Batum had struggled with consistency over the past couple games, but when it counted the most, he was there on Saturday.
His ability to hit the clutch-shot and come up big when needed have been big question marks over his career. There is no doubt that having a game-winning shot under his belt will grow Batum's confidence.
Key Moment of the Game
Is there any doubt?
While Damian Lillard returned to form after having endured a rough road trip, Batum lifted his team when it needed it the most.
His three-pointer with 0.2 seconds left was a difficult shot. A miss would have left the Blazers devastated.
The life of being a rookie in the NBA had caught up to Lillard on the current road trip.
Lillard has been shooting poorly as he learns to adjust to how teams defend him. However, Lillard came up huge by reminding people why he is considered the front-runner for Rookie of the Year.
The Weber State product had 24 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in 46 minutes. Lillard scored nine of the Blazers' 27 points in both overtime periods.
Tweets of the Night
Feel good to get a win, need the next 2 before we go home. Nice effort by everybody! #RipCity
— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) December 1, 2012
Crazy how one great shot will completely change the mood of the #Blazers locker room.
— Mike Tokito, The Oregonian, (@mtokito) December 1, 2012
What They Said
“It was much needed,” coach Terry Stotts said. “And that’s an understatement.” (via Joe Freeman of The Oregonian)
"I feel great," Batum said "This was a good game to watch for all the fans." (via ESPN.com)
"With all the mistakes we made, that game never should have went to the first overtime," Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said. "We were lucky and played with fire the whole night. But we got burned." (via Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer)
Final Grade: B+
Make no mistake, this game was against the lowly Cavaliers, who fell to 4-13 overall and a dreadful 2-4 at home.
But there were several positive signs:
Each Blazer starter scored in double figures. More importantly, Portland's bench contributed 29 points—17 more than its season average.
Every Blazers reserve scored, led by Joel Freeland (eight points), Will Barton (seven) and Nolan Smith (six).
Wesley Matthews also contributed his career-high with 10 assists to go along with his 11 points. Former Cavalier J.J. Hickson had 11 points and five rebounds.
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