The Portland Trail Blazers (41-26) displayed why they’re one of the best teams in the NBA right now, as they defeated the Miami Heat (36-32) on national TV.
The Heat held their last lead of the game 23-21 with 3:34 left in the first quarter, when the Blazers went on a 13-2 run to close it out and never looked back.
Justise Winslow tried to stage an improbable comeback early in the fourth quarter as Miami cut an 91-72 deficit down to 93-90 with an 18-2 run.
On the next Miami possession, Kelly Olynyk unnecessarily turned the ball over on a travel, Damian Lillard made a three-pointer, Evan Turner converted a two-pointer and the deficit was back up to 8 points.
Winslow cut Portland’s lead to 6 points with a long 3, but then the Trail Blazers ran the lead up to 111-95 with two 3-pointers and two dunks to seal the deal.
In the end Miami’s lack of talent on court became apparent as the game ran its course.
Goran Dragic tried his best, but Tyler Johnson’s deal at $19 million next season doesn’t look good unless he can contribute on a consistent basis in volume.
Tyler went 4-7 on 3’s, with 17 points, while Damian went 7-14 on 3’s, but 9-10 from free-throw line and had 10 assists, i.e. Lilliard has an elite basketball IQ and can handle the ball in a confident manner.
The other frontcourt starters were invisible on the court with 10 personal fouls because they weren’t playing against a tired Washington Wizards team; actually they seemed a step behind Portland on defense, and not quick enough on offense.
The one Heat standout was Winslow in his willingness to challenge the Blazers on both ends of the court.
With his final stat line of 15 points on 6-11 shooting, 2 of 3 threes, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks, Justise, along with Goran in the first quarter, were the two bright spots in a valiant but ultimately futile attempt to upset the Trail Blazers.