The HEAT were coming off a tough overtime loss last night to the bottom feeding Sacramento Kings, minus four-time NBA MVP LeBron James and 70% shooter Chris "The Birdman" Andersen. On top of that, their opponent is the NBA's best Portland Trail Blazers. Lucky for us, Miami does not play for second best.
Miami made their first six shots, scoring 13 points in the first three minutes to sprint out to a 13-6 lead before missing one. They stayed hot, nailing nine-of-11 with 6:35 left in the first quarter before the clock finally stopped. The Blazers, however, are not a team known for standing still, and reeled off five straight to bring the score to 19-17 halfway through. Chris Bosh was responsible for more than half of Miami's score, accounting for 10 on five-of-five shooting. Meanwhile, the Blazers were also shooting above 80 percent, hitting 10 of their first 12 shots and running off seven straight to knot the game at 24 with three minutes left in the opening frame. The Blazers went on a nine point run to close out the period with a 34-30 lead.
The Blazers stayed hot, scoring nine of the first 13 points in the second quarter to extend the lead to nine, 43-34. Udonis Haslem entered the game for six minutes, scoring two on his only field goal attempt, making a steal, and grabbing a rebound. Dwyane Wade slammed home a Norris Cole pass on the fast break, but landed very hard and took a while to get up before missing his free throw attempt. Halfway through the second frame, the HEAT were looking at a nine-point, 46-37 deficit. Chris Bosh scored his 11th and 12th point without a miss (at this point, he may have started to think he was magic, but he missed his next two shots to bring him back to earth) and Mario Chalmers followed with a tough layup and a foul shot to cut Portland's lead to five, 50-45. Cole jacked a three - Portland answered with a three. Chalmers made a layup, Portland made a layup. Beasley hit a nine-foot jumper, and Portland made an eight-footer. Bosh made a layup on Rio's seventh assist, and Portland finally missed one. Bosh missed his next shot but was fouled before making both of his free throws to cut the lead down to one, at 57-56 with 36.3 seconds left in the half. Damian Lillard sank another three for Portland before Bosh made another field goal. Bosh then barely touched Lopez on the inbound, and was called for a foul. That led to a technical foul - and Portland made two of the three shots. The score at half was 62-58, Portland.
Second Quarter Observations
The officials should be ashamed of themselves for calling that foul on Bosh near the end of the half. The broadcast stated that if they call that one, there should be 800 fouls called every game.
Aside from the bad call, Bosh hit the locker room with 18 points on eight-of-11 shooting and five boards.
Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 18 of his own on seven-for-11 shooting, including a four-for-seven performance from beyond the arc.
Maybe the bad call on Bosh will get him angry enough to steal this game for the HEAT.
This Portland team is really, really good, but Miami is hanging tough - and outshooting the Blazers from long distance (.667 - .474), overall (.571 - .545), and from the stripe (.857 - .714).
As the third quarter started, Rio and Beasley each made good looking runners to keep the HEAT hanging around four points behind Portland, but the Beaz took knee-on-knee contact with Robin Lopez, sending him to the bench. Rashard Lewis also made a nice shot, but was called for a technical foul - not sure why - and I'm not a ref basher normally - but these guys seem to have a favorite team on the floor. Miami forced a shot-clock violation - and after a miss, Bosh put in Chalmers eighth dime of the night. Wade was cruising in for an easy layup - but the shot was blocked. The HEAT collected the rebound, and took a two point lead when Lewis sunk a three from the right side. After pushing the lead out to four, the Blazers reeled off five straight to bring the score to 76-75, Portland. Wade committed his fourth turnover when he banked the pill off his thigh and out of bounds with three minutes left, allowing the Blazers to extend out to 81-77 on their next trip down the floor. After another field goal, they forced the HEAT into a shot-clock violation. After a nice steal-and-score from Lewis, the Blazers hit another three. Miami can't win matching two-for-three every time. Cole scored Miami's last four of the quarter, heading to the final twelve minutes trailing, 88-83.
Third Quarter Observations
Why couldn't LeBron have missed a game against the Bobcats, or the Wizards?
If Wade has to have an off-night (he's five-for-13 with four turnovers through three), why not last night against the Kings, instead?
Udonis Haslem has seen better days. He still has more fouls than points + rebounds this season, and I don't see the trend ending anytime soon.
Rashard Lewis is four-for-five through three, with 10 points. It's only his fourth game in double digits in this season, his 16th.
Miami had a lot of trouble closing out the five-point gap - falling to seven behind and scoring, then repeating that three times. Portland started to miss shots, but Miami went cold too, with each team missing their next four shots (Bosh with three) before a TV time out with 7:32 left in the game. When they came back, Wade broke the scoreless drought and cut it down to 92-89. Lopez traveled, but Ray Allen missed his three-point attempt. Lopez got revenge with a two-handed slam next time down. He fouled UD on Miami's turn, and Haslem sunk both of them to keep the deficit at just three. At this point, Miami had UD, Bosh, Cole, Chalmers, and Allen on the floor. Allen missed another three-point attempt, but Haslem stole the ball and assisted on Cole's eventual layup. Bosh nailed a corner three to tie the game at 96. Aldridge made a very tough fadeaway over Bosh the next time down, then Bosh saved a turnover by forcing a jump ball in the Heat's end of the court. After the eventual pair of turnovers, Cole knotted the game back at 98 with a layup. Wade stole the ball, but missed the layup and tripped a Blazer trying for the board with 2:40 left in the game. Bosh nailed another three with two minutes left for a three point HEAT lead. After two free throws, UD, Wade, and Bosh teamed up for two more points. The score was 103-102 in favor of Miami when Wade fouled Nick Batum for three foul shots, all of which were made. Down by two, HEAT possession, 32 seconds remaining.
Wade tied it with an emphatic slam right off the inbound, driving in straight from 30-feet out, maybe trying to make up for a worse-than-average night. Ray Allen fouled a Blazer next time down the court, so the HEAT trailed by two with 7.7 remaining and the ball. Wade took the inbound, then, while driving for the hoop, threw the ball behind his back, nearly missing Bosh. Bosh squared up and took a three-point shot from two-feet behind the stripe, sinking the thing with 0.5 seconds left and a HEAT win.
Fourth Quarter Observations
Moda Center - Really?
If this is what we can look forward to provided these two make the finals, then consider me a happy HEAT fan. Seven games of this, in a row?
Chris Bosh - in the absence of King James - shows he can still lead a team if he needs to, with 37 points on 15-of-26 shooting with 10 rebounds.
Rio had nine points, nine rebounds, and nine assists.
Norris Cole went five-for-seven, scoring 11 with three assists.
How gratifying to see the HEAT win this one short the best player in the world?
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