The Heat struggled to score early on going scoreless in the first two minutes. Trevor Ariza stepped up for Portland scoring their first eight points. Duncan Robinson would end Miami’s drought with two threes, but Jimmy’s absence was felt early on. For Portland, CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony both punished the Heat and frequently enough for Spo to go the reserves early.
Duncan really was the only Heat player doing anything on offense (he had 12 of Miami’s first 14). Luckily, Bam would get involved around the 6:30 mark. The Heat would eventually get going offensively with some great plays by Derrick Jones Jr and Kelly Olynyk keeping things close. Kendrick Nunn struggled early going scoreless in the quarter.
On defense, the Heat fouled frequently going over the limit with 5:15 remaining in the quarter. Despite playing up on the Portland shooters the Blazers were able to hit some big looks. Damian Lillard especially as he picked up where he left off against the Jazz dropping 11 early.
Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala both saw action towards the end of the first quarter. Iggy looked good, playing aggressively to start and getting a steal. Goran Dragic did some great work scoring helping Miami stay within striking distance heading into the second quarter down only two
Jae Crowder eased in nicely to start the second, crashing the boards well and even scoring on a couple looks from three to take the lead. As the quarter progressed his hustle was evident, as he worked tirelessly on defense opting to sacrifice his body when needed. He’s going to fit in well here.
Goran who had been playing very well in the first, continued to anchor Miami’s offense in the second and Duncan Robinson continued his assault from three to keep the Heat either tied or ahead. It was impressive after a slow first, to see how well Miami worked to share the ball.
On defense the Heat continued to struggle guarding the three which cost them the lead. They’d go into the second half down three.
Kendrick Nunn and Kelly Olynyk would support the Heat as Portland went on a small scoring run. After a quiet first half, Lillard started unleashing his scoring ability forcing the Heat to try and respond.
Lately, the Heat really have been the worst three point defenders in the league with opponents scoring 41% from beyond the arc over the last three. The Heat defense as currently constructed (2-3 zone), doesn’t allow Miami to cover the three ball well and forces them to fight an uphill battle most of the time. The zone works when a team struggles from three, but if a team is streaking it really puts Miami in a difficult position. As you can probably imagine, the Heat went down 12 points fairly quickly.
With Lillard surging Miami really had no answers. Bam started to come alive, scoring and facilitating but it wasn’t enough especially with Portland reserves also getting in on the three point buffet (I see you Gary Trent Jr.).
Miami managed to go on an 8-0 run to end the quarter, showing slight signs of life headed into the fourth, but a overturned foul call where Goran kicked his leg out on a three would lead to a Blazers five point swing to end the quarter and put the Heat in a tighter spot down ten.
Miami opened the fourth with an Iggy steal and Silva slam, they’d follow that up with a Duncan three to get within five. Jae Crowder would push things closer for the Heat with multiple threes. Dragic would hit a big three around the five minute mark to get the Heat within two, but Portland would return fire with a three of their own and then Lillard would convert on an and-one to put the Heat back down eight.
Miami would pull back with another Crowder three to get within five once again. A poorly timed Duncan foul would cloud the outlook momentarily, but Goran hit another big three to get the Heat within four. The Heat would follow up with a big stop as Duncan redeemed himself with a big charge. Unfortunately, Gary Trent Jr would hit yet another three to put Miami down seven seconds later.
Miami would battle, with Bam hitting big alley-oop tip in to get it with three, but Damian Lillard would close the door partially on a clutch lay-up. Miami would have a chance but miss three go ahead threes to get back in it. Hassan Whiteside hit two big free throws to officially put the dagger in the Heat and send the Heat spiralling into their third straight loss.
Miami needs to spend some time fixing their defense, because as we head into the All-Star break defensive performances like that won’t move the needle. This was a tough loss.