The Portland Trail Blazers’ issues with turnovers continued Wednesday night at Cleveland and, consequently, so did their losing ways.
The Blazers fell 114-96, dropping their fourth consecutive game and fifth in six outings. Hurting once again were 17 turnovers that led to 24 points for the Cavaliers.
“These turnovers are kind of killing us as far as our chance to win the right way,” Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic told reporters. “Some nights you win when you have too many turnovers, but you’ve got to be so perfect every night.”
Other factors also sank the Blazers on Wednesday, especially Cleveland’s offense. The Cavaliers entered the game ranked second in scoring (115.6 points per game) and three-point shooting (39.6%) while being led by the highest-scoring backcourt tandem in the NBA.
Donovan Mitchell scored 34 points on the Blazers while making 6 of 10 threes and Darius Garland had 24 points and 12 assists. The Blazers, playing without Damian Lillard (calf injury), already lacked the firepower to match Cleveland’s duo. But it also didn’t help that Blazers guard Anfernee Simons had an off shooting night. He made just 6 of 18 field goal attempts for 20 points and committed five of his team’s turnovers.
The Cavaliers shot 55.4% from the field and 44% on threes. Their frontcourt of Jarrett Allen (24 points, 13 rebounds) and Evan Mobley (10 points, 14 rebounds) proved difficult to stop inside and also disrupted the Blazers’ offense, according to coach Chauncey Billups.
“I thought their physicality really hurt us in the halfcourt,” Billups told reporters. “Blowing up screens. Top-locking screens. Bully coverage. It impacted our decision-making and the quality of shots that we got. But we kept fighting, though. I thought it was just too much for us.”
Nurkic put up 22 points and Jerami Grant had 21, but they all came in the first half. He missed all three of his shot attempts in the second half.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Blazers (10-8) are struggling in virtually all aspects of the game and that started before Lillard injured his lower leg Saturday against Utah. The defense isn’t what it was prior to this losing stretch. They have now surrendered 114 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time this season.
IT WAS OVER WHEN
Simons made a three to pull the Blazers to within 100-91 with just over four minutes remaining after they had trailed by as much as 20. But the run was short lived. The Cavaliers went on a 14-3 lead to take a 114-94 lead with 1:02 remaining in the game.
Justise Winslow started in place of Lillard instead of rookie Shaedon Sharpe, who had started four games this season when Lillard was out. The move came after Sharpe had been slumping as of late. He shot just 3 of 17 in 49 minutes during the prior two games. Sharpe responded Wednesday by going scoreless on two attempts in 15 minutes off the bench.
The Blazers play at 4 p.m. Friday at the New York Knicks (9-9).
— Aaron Fentress | afentress@Oregonian.com | @AaronJFentress (Twitter), @AaronJFentress (Instagram), @AaronFentress (Facebook). Subscribe to Oregonian/OregonLive newsletters and podcasts