Cardiac Kids Do It Again
By mikebarrett Posted in: Heat
Magic happens when you believe.
For about the sixth time this season we’ve called a victory a “signature win.” This latest one came Thursday night, in front of a national TV audience, as the Blazers beat the world champs at the Rose Garden 92-90. Portland ended the game on a 24-10 run, and used two massive three pointers by Wesley Matthews in the final minute to secure the comeback win.
This team is now 11-2 in games decided by six points or fewer. As I mentioned on the radio earlier in the day, you don't want to get Portland into a close game right now.
I hesitate to ever use the word “ugly” when you’re talking about a win over the Miami Heat. But, the fact that the Trail Blazers were able to beat the defending champs, on a night when they struggled in so many different categories, gives you some idea of how far this team has come. It wasn’t that long ago that we were saying a high shooting percentage was vital to Portland’s chances to win any game. Well, they shot 37% against the Heat, and lived to tell about it.
With under eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers trailed Miami 80-68. This is about the time the Heat usually slam the door shut. It didn’t happen that way on this night.
Again, this was a night the Blazers didn’t shoot well, didn’t really ever get into a rhythm, missed some clutch free throws, and were forced to play at Miami’s tempo. But, they found a way. That’s been the most impressive thing about this run. The Blazers are now 12-3 in their last 15 games. That’s tied for the second-best record in the NBA over that stretch. They’re now five games over the .500 mark.
If the 12-point deficit with eight minutes to go wasn’t disheartening enough, consider that Miami had come into the fourth quarter with a lead 18 times this season before Thursday night. They had won 17 of those 18.
Matthews had been just 1 of 6 from behind the three-point line before the final minute of this contest. But, with 56.9 seconds left he tied the game at 88 with his first bomb. Then, with Portland down 90-88 with 27 seconds left, Matthews drilled another to give the Blazers their first lead of the fourth quarter. Miami’s Mario Chalmers went for the win at the buzzer, but his three was off the mark and the Blazers danced off the floor as over 20,000 Blazer fans went nuts.
Matthews ended the game with 18 points, and certainly came through when it mattered most, but Nic Batum strapped on a saddle and carried his team through most of the night. He ended with 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was brilliant, yet again. LaMarcus Aldridge was also solid, scoring 20 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. JJ Hickson grabbed 10 boards, and Damian Lillard had just 10 points, but dished out 8 assists.
This win was huge on many levels, but was so important given what’s ahead in the next few games for the Blazers. They take on the Warriors in Oakland on Friday, host Oklahoma City on Sunday, and then play at Denver on Tuesday. If you’re already fearing the worst looking at those games, remember who we’re dealing with here.
You would think we all would have learned by now.
Was this the most impressive victory of the season so far for this team? If not, what win ranks ahead of it? And, what has this past 15 games done to your expectations of this team?
Talk to you from Oakland on Friday night.
(photo credit- Bruce Ely- The Oregonian. He's the best in biz, and they're lucky to have him).
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