Thomas scores 17 points in debut for Cavaliers
NEW YORK - The Associated Press
LeBron James dropped in 24 points and two-time all-star Isaiah Thomas made his Cleveland debut as the Cavaliers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 127-110 on Jan. 2 night.
The Cavaliers had five players in double figures including Thomas who showed flashes of his offensive skill in a long-awaited first game with his fourth NBA team.
Thomas tallied 17 points in 19 minutes of play as he embarks on a soft return to NBA action following injuries to his hip and shoulder.
“It was great see him get his first basket and go from there,” James said of Thomas. “He is a spark and the jump we needed on our team right now.”
James also had seven assists and four steals while starters Kevin Love (19) and Jae Crowder (17) scored in double figures for the Cavaliers in the win.
Thomas and Dwyane Wade came off the bench to score 16 and 15 points respectively.
Thomas was traded by the Boston Celtics along with Crowder, Ante Zizic and two draft picks to Cleveland for Kyrie Irving in the offseason.
Thomas’ last game was May 19, game two of the Eastern Conference finals against the Cavs. He played hurt through the first two rounds of the playoffs, then was furious that Boston traded him.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said earlier that Thomas would play restricted minutes on Jan. 2. Even though the Cavaliers’ next game is against the Celtics, Thomas already said he isn’t keen on facing his old teammates just yet.
“I can wait until February,” Thomas said when announcing his return. “I think we play them in February again, so I can wait and put on a show then.”
Damian Lillard returned to the Blazers lineup from injury and finished with 22 points. Lillard missed five games with a sore right hamstring.
Jusuf Nurkic scored a team-high 23 points and CJ McCollum chipped in 19 in the loss.
Elsewhere, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 29 points and Kawhi Leonard had a season-high 25 to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a win over the New York Knicks 100-91.
The victory gave coach Gregg Popovich sole possession of fifth place on the NBA’s coaching wins list.