The Miami Heat beat the Portland Trailblazers 108-104 behind Dwyane Wade’s clutch 32-point performance. For the first time this season Miami held their ground consistently throughout a game against a top tier team.
Here’s a quick recap of the Heat’s second win in a row:
Seconds after Miami won the tip off, Luol Deng scored first shot of game with a quick and easy jumper. Things started to look grim when Nicolas Batum returned with a fake and pull up jumper, Wade making a bad post move and Hassan Whiteside getting blocked.
The Heat’s slow transition defense was painful to watch against Portland’s speedy ball movement and three point shooting. Although Miami looked more confident shooting the size mismatch between Udonis Haslem and Lamarcus Aldrige became painfully apparent. Next followed Wade to Whiteside lobs and Aldrige mid-range jumpers. Miami’s transition defense slowly improved as Deng found his shooting stroke. Even with Whiteside, Miami’s size problem was explored by 7-footers Robin Lopez and Aldrige. Goran Dragic played as the primary ball handler in the start and facilitated the ball well, however, poor perimeter defense cost the Heat several points from Batum and even Aldrige.
When Whiteside was called for a goal-tend, I expected him to punch the referee but he was surprisingly calm, looks like he’s maturing. Aldrige continued to score mid-range jumpers regardless of who guarded him. After the Miami bench was played agaubst the Portland starters, the Heat began to fall.
The second quarter consisted of mainly fouls and little change in the lead. There was no score change for almost 2 minutes. Seven-footers Chris Kaman and Meyers Leonard towered over Miami’s smaller lineup and despite the Chris Anderson dunk over Kaman, Wade missed several shots and ball movement was very stagnant.
Leonard surprised the Heat by becoming an offensive threat and drew fouls. Whiteside even had trouble defending Leonard since the Portland center is a stretch 5 who stands near the 3 point line. Dragic showed off some pretty step back jumpers and scored off of a Whiteside block to change the momentum of the game. Miami caught up after putting their starters back onto the court. Offense back on point after starters are back. Unfortunately Portland’s good ball movement kept the Heat down by 10+ points towards the end of the quarter.
Miami had one of their best second half comebacks with the start of the third quarter. All it took was the classic Whiteside block and Wade driving to the paint. Deng scored with no hesitation and brought Miami within 4 points of Portland to 58-62. Haslem hit his second career three-pointer to bring the Heat to 64-65 and Mario Chalmers tied the game up at 70-70 with a clutch triple. Halslem shortly afterwards scored his third career three-pointer to bring the score within 1 point at 74-75. Aldrige was unfazed and continued to score and Whiteside lost his temper after losing a rebound to Kaman, but all ended well with Dragic’s step-back three-point buzzer beater over Kaman. The Heat now led at 81-79.
The final stretch began with another Dragic triple and an easy basket from Michael Beasley. Aldrige was on the bench, which meant that it was Miami’s chance to catch up and pull ahead. They quickly lost the lead however after triples from C.J. Mccollum and Steve Blake. Things looked great after a Birdman block on Lopez, a miss from Aldrige and a Wade and-1.
However, Miami seemed to forgot the three things that are guaranteed in life; 1. Death, 2. Taxes and 3. Mid-range jumpers from Aldrige. Portland caught up very quickly because of Mr. Aldrige. Wade pulled off a vintage eurostep that drove the crowd crazy and then Whiteside brought the Heat up by 5 after a hook shot and drawing a foul. Wade was responded by Damian Lillard, Batum and Aaron Afflalo three-pointers. At this point the Heat were only up by 2 with 2 minutes left. The suspense was thick in the air. Wade missed a shot leading to an Aldridge jumper. With the score now tied at 102-102, Whiteside simply could not contain Aldrige and Lopez at the same time. Miami was then down 104-102. Wade then saved the day with two running jumpers to bring the score to 106-104. The Blazers turned it over and Wade sealed the deal with 2 free-throws after scoring Miami’s last 8 points.
This game shows that the Heat have endless potential once Bosh returns next season. They are starting to form great team chemistry and put pressure on good teams. Dragic, Deng, Whiteside and Haslem all looked great on the court tonight. As long as they continue to develop their bench, make plays for Whiteside and play with a consistent lineup, Miami will become leaders of the league soon enough.