In their most impressive game of this young NBA season, the Miami Heat came roaring back during crunch time to outlast the Portland Trail Blazers and grab a well-deserved 120-111 victory at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
By any measure of his considerable skills displayed throughout his legendary career, Dwyane Wade was simply spectacular with 18 points on 7-8 shooting, most notably 4-5 from three-point range in just 11 first half minutes. He showed veteran savvy, impressive range, great footwork, and an uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time — perfectly illustrated by a corner three at the halftime buzzer. It was a vintage performance to be sure, but one that the shorthanded Heat benefited big time from.
All the while the Heat built up an impressive 19-point lead with some of their best basketball on both ends in the first half. Wade was the star of the show but it was a complete team effort. The bench played very well, including Justise Winslow who looked good in his first action of the season. Winslow brought his usual tough defense but also showed plenty of will driving repeatedly to the basket with positive results. Josh Richardson struggled at times trying to do too much on offense, but did come around late to hit some timely shots. Though Hassan Whiteside only scored four points, he grabbed 16 rebounds and was a force on defense with six blocks — rendering Jusuf Nurkic a non-factor early in the game in the process.
Miami’s defense had Portland in fits for the first half with just 42 points for a team entering the game averaging slightly more than 125 points per game. Damian Lillard was almost solely responsible for keeping them within striking distance and not letting the game get too out of hand.
Lillard kept at it in the final quarter and led them on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 96-96 to complete a huge comeback. They would take the lead twice briefly, but Dragic helped the Heat answer back with a 10-0 run to retake the lead and then hitting their last five shots of the game, including four from long range, to seal the win.
Kelly Olynyk had his best game of the season with 19 points and Rodney McGruder was again a huge factor with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but both did so much hard work in between what showed up in the box score that added up in a big way. Dragic and Wade deserve the accolades, but each player who entered the game had meaningful minutes to help notch a confidence-building win against a quality opponent.