Miami At Its Best in Win
It would probably be going overboard to suggest that the Miami Heat can't
play any better, but even they admitted, after their overtime win in Portland, that performance was pretty tough to beat.
It wasn't perfect, but it was in the same area code, as they shot 57 percent, hit 7 of their final 8 shots in regulation, hit 5 of their 7 shots in overtime, got 44 from LeBron James, 34 from Dwyane Wade, and beat the Trail Blazers 107-100.
The Trail Blazers should be able to take something out of the fact that they were far from perfect, shooting just 42 percent, but were still in a position to win the game in regulation. They won't take any satisfaction out of that, because they feel they're beyond that, but it does show us how far this team has come.
Portland did play a very good second half, and held an eight-point lead with eight minutes left. Their lead was still seven with just 1:42 left in the game. But, Miami, behind LeBron, ended regulation on a 9-2 run, and once it got to overtime a Heat win seemed inevitable.
You may not like LeBron (and that club is already full of members), but he indeed looked like the greatest player in the world on this night. He didn't seem interested in the first half, as he had just 12 points on 5 of 11 shooting. But, you knew it was a matter of time before he got interested and decided to take over. He was simply unstoppable in the final minutes. He ended up scoring 32 points in the second half and overtime, and taunted the Rose Garden crowd after his dagger three pointer late in OT.
That's the difficult thing about the Big 3. You can't stop, or even slow, them all. Chris Bosh was badly outplayed by LaMarcus Aldridge, but it wasn't enough. Wade dominated early, with 15 points in the first quarter, and handed the baton to James in the second half. When you catch this team on this kind of a night, when they shoot 10 for 13 in the fourth quarter, and 5 for 7 in overtime, you're not going to beat them.
Despite all of this, amazingly, Portland was still one possession away from walking away with a win. They had a final look, with the game tied at 93, and time running out in the fourth. Miami's defense took Portland out of what it initially wanted to do, and Andre Miller ended up with a makeable outside shot. It missed, and came right back to him. He hurried a final shot, from the foul line, at the rim and it missed as well. Overtime was on, and LeBron took over.
The loss spoiled another all-star type performance from LaMarcus Aldridge, who was brilliant. Bosh, who knows Aldridge's moves better than just about anyone being they work out together in Dallas in the offseason, was unable to come up with stops. Aldridge ended with 31 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, and a blocked shot.
Nicolas Batum was very solid as well, scoring 22 points on 9 of 16 shooting. But, (and here's what killed Portland) the rest of the team was just 17 for 52 (33%). The effort was there from the rest of the Blazers, but even with Aldridge and Batum's shooting factored in, Portland shot just 42 percent in the game. Again, it's amazing, but that was still almost enough to get the job done.
To listen to Nate McMillan's post-game comments, click here
One streak continued, and one was snapped on this night. The Heat have now won 13 in a row on the road. They are chasing the NBA record for consecutive road wins. The '71-'72 Lakers won 16 in a row on the road. The Trail Blazers had won 8 in a row at home.
Things don't get much easier for the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, as they host the New York Knicks at the Rose Garden. Portland won the first meeting, in New York City (a win that's looking more impressive with each passing day). They'll go for the sweep on Tuesday night. Most likely, it'll take more than 42 percent shooting to get that job done in that game as well.