The Portland Trail Blazers hosted the Miami Heat, the two-time defending NBA champions, Saturday night at the Moda Center. And despite playing without MVP LeBron James, who suffered a right groin strain Friday night in an overtime loss to the Kings in Sacramento, the Heat were able to come away with a thrilling 108-107 victory.
With James sidelined, the Heat were lead by Chris Bosh, who hit a 25-foot rainbow three-pointer with 0.5 seconds to play to give Miami the victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,071.
“Well, obviously it was a disappointing loss,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I was disappointed that we put ourselves in that position at the end of the game where it had to come down to a couple of plays at the end. Give Miami credit. We knew they had a lot of good players and with James out, they had a lot of good players that can make plays, and they did.”
Bosh, who has played a complimentary role alongside James and Dwyane Wade since joining the Heat as a free agent prior to the 2010-11 season, would make all three of his three-point attempts to finish with a game-high 37 points on 15 of 26 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds.
“He made his jump shots early,” said Stotts of Bosh. “His threes — I didn’t count on him going three for three from three. He made jump shots. He played a terrific game and they needed him to. They’ve got guys who have won championships together and Chris Bosh has been an All-Star and he carried a team to the playoffs by himself, so he’s certainly capable of doing that.”
The loss snapped Portland’s streak of 11 straight wins against Eastern Conference teams. It was also the first time this season the Trail Blazers lost after taking a lead into both the half and the fourth quarter and their first loss when shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
With the Heat leading 103-102 with 32 seconds to play, Wade would foul Nicolas Batum on a three-point attempt, sending the Frenchman to the line for three free throws, which he would make to put Portland up 105-102.
Miami would score out of the timeout on a Wade dunk off a Ray Allen screen, tying the game at 105-105 with 26 seconds to play.
On the next possession, Damian Lillard dribbled the ball near halfcourt, allowing the clock to wind down in hopes of getting the last shot of the game. Lillard lost the ball while driving with eight seconds left, but Batum corralled the ball and was once again fouled while shooting. He would hit both free throws to once again put the Trail Blazers up by two.
But a two-point lead wouldn’t be enough. On the penultimate play of the game, Wade would drive all the way to the rim, collapsing the defense, before kicking out to Bosh behind the three-point line for the game-winner.
“He was three or four feet behind the line,” said Stotts of Bosh’s shot, “we had two guys running at him. Wade throws it back to him and it was a great shot.”
The Blazers would have one last chance with 0.5 seconds left with Batum finding LaMarcus Aldridge with a lob near the basket, but Aldridge’s hurried attempt wouldn’t find the mark as time expired.
‘That was a good look,” said Aldridge. “It was tough to judge how hard I should shoot it falling backwards. If I could go back in time I might try to go glass but I was happy with the pass. Just got to make it next time.”
Aldridge went nine of 20 from the field to end the night with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes.
While Bosh’s shot would be the score that lifted the Heat to victory, the Trail Blazers did themselves no favors in the fourth, turning the ball over seven times in the quarter while missing all three of their three-point attempts.
“Tonight, we made a lot of mistakes,” said Lillard. “It was kind of a lesson that all of those things can come back to bite us. But you can’t win them all. We’ve won so many (close games) and tonight we almost had another one. (Bosh) hit a bit shot and it was a tough one.”
Lillard finished with 16 points and seven assists in 35 minutes. His four three-pointers moved him to 93 on the season, which ties his with Golden State’s Klay Thompson for most three-pointers so far this season.
The loss spoiled a great performance by Wesley Matthews, who hit five of eight three-pointers, finished with 23 points and three rebounds. Joel Freeland had the best rebounding game of his career with 12 boards, a new career high, in just 15 minutes.
Next up, the Trail Blazers start a road back-to-back Monday in New Orleans against the Pelicans. Tipoff is schedule for 5 PM.