A frenetic third quarter in Sunday afternoon's matinee game between the Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers resulted in a Goran Dragic ejection and the Heat facing a four-point hole entering the fourth quarter. After a disappointing loss to the Toronto Raptors Friday night, today's game was very much in doubt.
But Chris Bosh scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth period to carry Miami to a 116-109 victory over Portland and improve to 16-10 on the season. Bosh scored the first seven Heat points of the quarter, setting the tone to close the game.
Then it was Whiteside's turn. The burly center made the most of his fourth-quarter playing time, slamming home dunks and converting on a key second-chance layup after a missed Gerald Green 3 with 3:35 left. Whiteside even made both free throws when Portland resorted to the "Hack-a-Whiteside" strategy. He finished with 22 points, 11 boards and five blocks. Throw in some Green 3s -- including one from the left corner with the shot clock expiring -- and Dwyane Wade free throws to ice the game, and the Heat got back in the win column.
Miami played a much more polished, energetic second half after some lackadaisical play to open the game. The Heat fell behind by as many as 12 points in the second quarter before surging back. This was far from a perfect game -- the Heat players were a little careless with the ball to open the game -- but Miami corrected enough in the second half to come away with a much-needed win.
The Heat's 3-point shooting was remarkable. Bosh and Luol Deng made three consecutive 3s for the Heat to start the game, and Miami finished with 12 triples. Deng made five 3s Sunday, feasting off of drive-and-kick plays that may have had Heat fans flash back to Ray Allen's days. Green made four 3s amid a very strong overall game off the bench. After struggling early in the season, Green has shot the 3 so well that I think the ball is going in every time he shoots. On a team that typically doesn't make 12 3s per game, Green's shooting is invaluable.
Wade finished with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and seven assists, including several nice feeds to Whiteside in the fourth quarter. Wade acted as the Heat's safety-valve option on offense, making tough jumpers with the shot clock expiring and finding Green in the corner for huge back-to-back 3s in the fourth quarter.
The three-time NBA champion's backcourt mate, Goran Dragic, was playing pretty well until his ejection. Dragic had put together eight points and eight assists with no turnovers before picking up two technical fouls within 3:11. The second technical was especially thin-skinned; Dragic simply said, "What?" to the official before getting ejected. Heat fans didn't get a chance to see Dragic play more aggressively in the fourth quarter, but Bosh and Whiteside picked up the slack.
Beno Udrih served as the point guard after Dragic's ejection and offered a steady hand. It's good to have a veteran point guard on the bench who can step in with confidence.
The Heat will host the Detroit Pistons Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.