Against the East this year, the Portland Trail Blazers are 13-2, much better than against the West. They were coming into this game so far on a 4-1 homestand, the only loss coming to red-hot Atlanta.
The Heat, on the other hand, is 5-9 versus the Western Conference and have lost seven out of the last 10. Chris Bosh is back from his calf injury now, but his addition to the lineup hasn’t changed much.
The game started slow, with both teams scoring under 25 after the first quarter. Dwyane Wade appeared to be the big threat, as he scored nine points during that time. Bosh shot just 2 for 7, allowing the defense to pay more attention to Wade.
As usual, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard led Portland in scoring with six and five points respectively following the first 12 minutes of play. They, along with everyone on the court, started the second quarter strong. The Heat shot 5 of 7 four minutes into the quarter, and the Blazers went 5 of 9.
Despite their hot shooting early on, Portland began taking low quality shots and their field goal percentage plummeted, ending under 40 percent by halftime. Miami kept it high, earning a five-point lead at the half.
With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, Blazer fans received a little scare when Lillard and Wade collided, but they both got back up and were able to finish out the last couple seconds. Lillard did return after halftime and seemed just fine. He led Portland on a run to take their first lead of the game with 8:33 left in the third.
A reoccurring problem for the Blazers helped Miami stay in this game. Ever since the loss of Robin Lopez and now Joel Freeland, they have been giving up way more points in the paint than previously. The Heat’s season high before the game was 58, and tonight they got 46 points in the paint, 30 of which came in the first half.
The tides turned after Portland’s little streak, and Miami kept up its horrifically bad third quarter trend with just 16 points in that span. They already average the least amount of points in the league with 21, but they couldn’t even reach that tonight.
The Blazers took a tidy 12-point lead going into the final quarter, and it was smooth sailing from there. Wade exited the game during the third but returned short after, and Bosh was stagnant on offense, giving Portland nothing to worry about.
Even though Portland didn’t make a lot of threes, they got several second chance opportunities and made the most of them. Kaman, getting his second start of the season, finished with 10 points and nine boards in 21 minutes.
Someone who flew under the radar as far as names go tonight was Hassan Whiteside for Miami. Coming off the bench for 19 minutes, he had 10 points on six shots, eight rebounds, and four blocks. Look for his minutes to increase and in turn, his production.
|Points||Aldridge 24||Wade 23|
|Rebounds||Aldridge 12||Whiteside 8|
|Assists||Matthews 5||Bosh 5|
|Steals||Batum 2||Andersen 2|
|Blocks||2 tied with 2||Whiteside 4|