CLEVELAND - LeBron James had another of those oh-no-he-didn't-type plays. Shaquille O'Neal didn't see it.
James scored 33 points and made an incredible, soaring block on Brandon Roy in the final seconds, and Anderson Varejao had a season-high 22 as the Cleveland Cavaliers rebounded from consecutive sloppy road losses with a 104-99 win over the hobbled Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
James added seven assists, seven rebounds and swatted Roy’s shot with the Cavs holding on late. Portland’s star tried to drop in a floater, but James came across the lane and rejected his shot, his fingers going above the backboard square – 12 feet off the floor – to send it into the seats.
“I didn’t see where the ball went,” James said. “It’s still rolling, that’s a good thing.”
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What’s not so good is O’Neal leaving with a bruised left eye in the third quarter. Cleveland’s center got poked by Portland’s Joel Przybilla while going up for a shot. He was taken to the Cleveland Clinic after the game for precautionary tests and is expected to travel with the team to Oklahoma City today.
O’Neal finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Varejao added 10 boards for Cleveland, which found itself trailing 54-45 after an uninspired first half.
An angry coach Mike Brown laid into his players and they came out with much more intensity after halftime.
“It was much needed,” guard Mo Williams said of Brown’s fiery pep talk. “We were lackadaisical. We weren’t playing the way we should.”
Roy scored 23, LaMarcus Aldridge 22 and Andre Miller 20 for the Blazers, who dressed just nine players because of injuries and need to play better.
“We have to or we’ll get beat by 30,” Roy said.