PORTLAND, Ore. - LeBron James turned 15 on Dec. 30, 1999 — the same day Lamar Odom became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.
James bettered him Wednesday night by 34 days.
James had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Trail Blazers 107-101 Wednesday night to send Portland to its fifth straight loss.
“That was never a goal of mine to do it, but once I kept getting so close I wanted to try to get over with it,” said James, who reached the mark 20 days after his 20th birthday. “Winning this ballgame tonight, and plus getting the triple-double, it gets no better than this.”
James’ pass to Zydrunas Ilgauskas with 1:19 left gave him 10 assists and completed the feat. His teammates congratulated him during a timeout a short time later, and his mother cheered him from a courtside seat.
“One of many to come, I’m sure,” Cleveland coach Paul Silas said.
Ilgauskas had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and the Cavaliers led by as many as 19 points. Cleveland is now 2-2 in the midst of a six-game road trip, with the Sacramento Kings coming up Thursday night.
James said while he knew of Odom’s accomplishment, he never bothered to look up the details.
“Nah. Individual aspects mean nothing to me, I’m a team player,” he said. “I just want to see our team winning games. I don’t care about stats.”
Portland’s Nick Van Exel had 28 points, while Damon Stoudamire had 27.
When the Blazers pulled to 95-87 late in the game, James hit a 3-pointer to slow Portland’s momentum.
“His game was so smooth tonight that you couldn’t even tell (he had a triple double),” teammate Jeff McInnis said. “That’s how it’s supposed to be. I think most guys press to get triple-doubles. I didn’t even know he had it.
“Lamar played like that — smooth,” said McInnis, who was a teammate of Odom’s with the Clippers. “He could get triple-double without you even knowing it. They’re similar in that aspect, but they do it differently. He’s aggressive, he’s attacking. Lamar is kind of laid back, picking and choosing.”
Portland was finally home after a grueling six-game, 10-day road trip, during which the Blazers managed just one win. But even the comforts of home couldn’t boost their depleted lineup.
Forward Zach Randolph missed his fourth game with a sore right knee. Already short Darius Miles (left knee contusion) and Shareef Abdur-Rahim (right elbow surgery), the Blazers started Ruben Patterson and Theo Ratliff at forward.
Ratliff, usually a center, made his first-ever start at forward Tuesday night in the Blazers’ 113-107 overtime loss in Sacramento. Although fighting a stomach virus, he started Wednesday’s game but left a short time later after getting two quick fouls and did not return.
The Blazers led 32-26 midway through the first half, but the Cavaliers took off on a 23-6 run to go up 51-38 on Sasha Pavlovic’s layup. Cleveland led 55-49 at the half.
There was a brief skirmish early in the second half when Cleveland’s Ira Newble appeared to shove Przybilla down and the two faced off. The officials quickly stepped in, and technical fouls were called against both players.
Otherwise, it was all James.
“LeBron took over in the second half doing the things he does, like rebounding and getting into the open court,” Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. “He took the game over.”
Notes: The Cavaliers practiced Tuesday at Nike headquarters in nearby Beaverton, Ore. James, who signed an endorsement deal with the shoe maker estimated at $90 million, also filmed a new commercial while there. ... The Blazers re-signed forward James Thomas to another 10-day contract on Wednesday. ... The teams wore throwback uniforms from 1970s, when the Cavaliers and the Blazers each played their first-ever NBA game — against each other. The Blazers won that game, 115-112, held next door at Portland’s Memorial Coliseum. ... Luke Jackson, a local favorite who hails from Creswell, Ore., and played for Oregon, was a first-round draft pick of the Cavaliers, but is out for the season because of back surgery. A fan held a sign reading: “Get Well Luke.”
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