LeBron James has been the one constant for the Cavaliers (39-29) in a season of twists, turns, and roster overhauls. He is having another banner season with 27.0 points, 9.0 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game while shooting 54.4 percent, but based on his supporting cast this season, it can be argued this could be the best season of his career at age 33.
James had another huge game Thursday night with 35 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and a thunderous dunk over Jusuf Nurkic that nearly broke social media, but it wasn't enough in a 113-105 loss to the surging Portland Trail Blazers.
Playing without injured all-star forward Kevin Love, along with regulars Cedi Osman, Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr while also losing Rodney Hood to a back injury, James was playing with reserves Jeff Green, Kyle Korver and J. R. Smith, while Jordan Clarkson and John Holland rounded out the rotation because Ante Zizic was ineffective in the first half.
It's unknown who will be available for this game, but Korver likely will get the start at shooting guard to keep Smith comfortable as a sixth man. Cleveland are fending off Washington for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference while battling Indiana for the Central Division lead and the third seed.
Chicago (24-44) continue to be creative with their personnel down the stretch as they try to remain competitive within the confines of NBA rules while also enhancing their chances for the No. 1 draft pick. The Bulls have the fifth-worst record in the Eastern Conference but also "improved" six games clear of Memphis for the worst mark in the league after sending the Grizzlies to their 19th straight loss Thursday night with a 111-110 victory.
Zach LaVine scored 20 points and Denzel Valentine hit five 3-pointers off the bench to account for all 15 of his points. The Bulls played without rookie forward Lauri Markkanen, who has started all 60 games he has played, and regulars Justin Holiday and Jerian Grant while starting David Nwaba and Noah Vonleh in the front court