The Miami Heat needed a win and it looked like smooth sailing ahead with five minutes left and a lead of 12 points.
A 12-2 run in crunch time by the Trail Blazers threatened to crush the Heat with another heartbreaking loss.
Portland had no business being in the game with Miami controlling the game after halftime, and they missed shot after shot before a sudden long range explosion courtesy of reserve guard Mo Williams (17 points) and a pair of late three-pointers by Wesley Matthews (15 points) with less than four minutes left cut the Heat lead that had been in double digits and an AA Arena ready to explode with the certain victory in hand.
Star guard Damien Lillard struggled throughout much of the game with his shooting, failing to hit a single field goal in the second and third quarter, but he came through in the fourth quarter to lead his team with 19 points on 3-15 shooting but went 12-of-14 from the charity stripe.
The Heat held the Trail Blazers to just 38% shooting for the game, and the visitor's 39 three-point attempts represented a season high for a Heat opponent. They only connected on 11 of them, but four of those came with five minutes left in the game. They ended up outscoring the Heat by nine points in the final quarter.
An entertaining game from start to finish, the offense wasn't particularly sharp in the first half for either team. Mario Chalmers went down with what looked to be a serious injury minutes into the first quarter but thankfully returned that same quarter and did not show any signs of any setbacks. With Dwyane Wade out with an injury (or simply resting for the Pacers clash), the Heat could not afford to give starter Toney Douglas too many minutes, with the guard failing to make much of his 18 scoreless minutes. He went 0-3 from the field, with a pair of wide open missed three-pointers that could have given his team a boost in the first half.
Speaking of a boost, Chris Bosh shook off a horrific first half to make a pair of three-pointers early in the third quarter to get Miami going finishing with 15 points and 8 rebounds. After beating Portland with a game-winning 3-pointer on the road, Bosh won it with a defensive play at home. Birdman was excellent with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, five of them on the offensive glass.
LeBron had a solid game by his standards with 32 points, 6 rebounds and 5 rebounds but he nearly derailed the Heat's hopes for a win late in the game with an offensive foul by lowering his shoulder on a drive against Lillard and failing to pass out of a bobbled play resulting in a turnover. Portland's switch to a zone defense clearly slowed the Heat down and a pass from Chalmers to Cole resulted in yet another late turnover and a foul for two free throws with 30 seconds left. That's when LeBron and Bosh saved the day with their game-winning plays.
The Heat outscored the Trail Blazers 52-26 in the paint and they even out rebounded them 48-44. Even more impressively, they only had 10 turnovers for the game.
Miami was able to cut the Indiana Pacers lead in the Eastern Conference standings by one game ahead of their matchup on Wednesday. The Chicago Bulls were able to beat the free falling Pacers 89-77, their seventh loss in their last 12 games.