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.
Greetings podcast enthusiasts. Between CJ McCollum getting an extension and Moe Harkless signing a new deal, Portland’s roster for the start of the 2016-17 regular season is all but finalized. So it seemed like a good time to hit the studio with Joe Freeman of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
On this edition, we discuss the near-max extension for McCollum and the four-year, roughly $40 million contract for Harkless, which directions Terry Stotts might go in terms of starting lineups and minutes allocations, the news that both Al-Farouq Aminu and Festus Ezeli will forego playing for Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Olympics, give a quick rundown of the preseason schedule and answer your Twitter-submitted questions.
Last weekend, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and his older brother, Errick, were guests on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss, amongst other things, The Basketball Tournament, which is billed as a “open application, 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament” in which the winning team takes home $2 million in prize money. Errick’s team, Overseas Elite, won the tournament last year and are in the finals, which airs Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific on ESPN, again this year.
But the tournament wasn’t the only topic of conversation, as any time you get two brothers together, you’re contractually obligated to ask them which is mom’s favorite. One one had, CJ still lives with his mom, so you might assume he’s the got the No. 1 son ranking sewn up, but it sounds like Errick was the much better behaved child and mom’s tend to have long memories, so it sounds like it’s a bit of a tossup.
“CJ, he was a good kid,” said Errick, “he just liked to get into things. He was really physical. She couldn’t take him around any other kids or he would, like, get into little altercations with them because he just played too rough.”
Sounds about right.
On Thursday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was a guest on The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio. Over the 15 minute conversation, Stotts discusses LeBron James saying he would have been his pick for 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, Kevin Durant signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, the notion of “super teams” in the NBA, having confidence in your players and his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive.
You can listen to the entire interview here, though I’m transcribed a portion which you can read below…
On LeBron James saying Stotts should have been Coach of the Year:
“To be honest, it felt pretty good. I have a lot of respect obviously for LeBron, what he does and what he’s done in his career, but for him to come out and say that, it made me feel good.”
On Cleveland winning the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 to Golden State:
“Obviously it was historical. A lot of things went into it, but when a team can do that and to win two games on the road being down 3-1, it’s really remarkable. It just put an end to a historical season as it was with Golden State and what they did during the regular season, the way they came back against Oklahoma City and then for Cleveland to do that, it was just remarkable. I thought it was a remarkable season to begin with and it finished that way.”
On Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors:
“My first reaction was he earned the right to be a free agent. I know a lot of thought went into it and it wasn’t a decision that he took lightly. I know he took a lot of criticism for making that decision but I think he earned that right to make whatever decision he felt was best for him. I think it’s going to be interesting with Golden State. Obviously defending them is going to be a challenge because — we talked about versatility — they were already an extremely talented offensive team and he’s going to make them better. They’re going to be a different team than they were last year, they’re not going to have the big guys. When you lose Festus Ezeli, who is on our team now, and Andre Bogut and Maurice Speights, the look of their frontline is going to be different. But I think they could be just as good just because of what they’ll be able to do at the offensive end.”
His thoughts on “super teams” in the NBA:
“You know, I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the league. I’ve just kind of accepted that that’s the way things are. I know people have made comparisons when LeBron went to Miami and that was supposedly the first super team and they won two championships, but it’s not like there was a five year, seven year run dynasty. When you get out on the court, you still have to play the games. Obviously Golden State is going to be very good, but you’ve got to play an 82-game season, you’ve got to go through four series to win a championship. I think the league does thrive on star power, whether it’s star power within a team or having a team be a star. I don’t know, I think the league is doing extremely well, I think it’s extremely popular. I think this is just another story that people are going to be interested in.”
On having confidence in shooters like Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum:
“I’m a big believer in confidence when shooting. It probably goes back to my freshman year in college when I didn’t know whether to shoot or (laughs) you know the phrase. But anyway, I’m a big believer in confidence and Allen and CJ are two different categories. CJ struggled with injuries his first two years and was trying to get incorporated into a roster that was winning 50 games and never really got into a rhythm. I think shooting is about rhythm and confidence. Same thing for AC, really, is that he did have opportunities to play in his first two years but he was playing behind Wes Matthews and Nic Batum and his opportunities on the court were limited. When you’re looking over your shoulder and trying not to make mistakes and putting pressure on (yourself) to make a shot, it’s difficult. I really give it to CJ and Allen, they were ready for this year and they were prepared for it, the opportunity was going to be there. But I think that a lot of players — and you know, you played — is that if the coach trusts me, I’m going to play better. Whether I trusted them or not their first two years, certainly their opportunity was there and I trusted them with the role that they were going to have.”
On his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive:
“Every year what I do is I go through the closet and knowing that I’m going to get some suits in the fall, I go through and weed out the older ones. There’s certain ones that I do kind of have a special place in my heart for them, but other than that, I just take some of the older suits and the Men’s Wearhouse has a great program with the suit drive to give away suits to people who can use them. I’m kind of a bigger guy so hopefully there’s some big guys out there who are able to take advantage of them.”