LeBron’s triple-double lifts Cavs to 88-80 win over Trail Blazers


LeBron’s triple-double lifts Cavs to 88-80 win over Trail Blazers

Still, the Cleveland standout wasn’t impressed with his performance.

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James is playing at such a high level, not even a triple-double impresses him anymore.

“As an individual, I didn’t feel I played particularly well,” he said after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 88-80 Monday night. “If you didn’t play well and you have a triple-double, something is wrong. I could have played better.”

Just about everyone else who saw the game would beg to differ.

James had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in his seventh triple-double of the season as the Cavaliers rallied in the second half. It is the 17th triple-double of his career.

James was in the minority when it came to his assessment of his performance. Wally Szczerbiak, who joined the Cavaliers in a Feb. 21 trade, laughed when told of James’ comments.

“It’s scary, it really is,” he said. “It’s pretty special being on this team and seeing him day in and day out. Being able to watch it, the fans are probably watching the best basketball player in the world. It’s arguable between him and Kobe [Bryant], and I’m going to argue for him every day.”

James, who has scored 20 or more points in 41 straight games, also recorded the 100th double-double of his career.

“LeBron obviously was phenomenal,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said.

The Cavaliers were down by 13 points in the second quarter and didn’t take their first lead until late in the third. Szczerbiak’s two free throws with 8:03 left broke a 69-all tie and gave Cleveland the lead for good.

James hit a key 3-pointer and made six free throws down the stretch. His bounce pass in the lane led to Anderson Varejao’s dunk, giving Cleveland a six-point lead with 1:16 to play. On Cleveland’s next possession, James found an open Szczerbiak, who hit a 15-footer for an 85-77 lead with 42 seconds left.

“I was able to find Andy on the dunk and find Wally on the shot,” James said. “I grabbed some rebounds. We pretty much put the game away in the last 21‚Ñ2 minutes.”

The Trail Blazers accomplished their strategy of making James give up the ball, but that worked to the Cavaliers’ advantage.

“We tried to do some things to take the ball out of LeBron’s hands, but he did a good job getting it to his teammates and they made plays,” said guard Brandon Roy. “When they play well off him, they’re a tough team to stop down the stretch.”

Joe Smith, playing in place of Ben Wallace, who missed the second half with back spasms, scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half.

LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 25 points and had 10 rebounds. Roy added 15 points.

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